Sheng Xu, PhD | Softsonics LLC
Competition Sponsor: US National Academy of Medicine
Awardee Year: 2023
Hypertension poses a major challenge in cardiovascular disease prevention and human longevity. The clinical gold standard for evaluating blood pressure is too invasive. Current noninvasive methods for measuring blood pressure only provide a snapshot in time rather than the entire data trend and can be misleading when done in the doctor’s office, leading to life-threatening tragedies, under- or over-medication, and millions of dollars wasted. We propose to develop a new blood pressure tracking device with a wearable soft ultrasonic sensor, which tracks beat-to-beat blood pressure with a band-aid like patch. The approach is enabled by recent advancements in stretchable electronic designs that allow conformal, seamless contact of a soft device with the human skin, eliminating the need for coupling gel at the device/skin interface. The device is innovative because it is the first-of-its-kind to acquire the arterial blood pressure waveforms non-invasively by a soft ultrasonic patch. With a penetration depth of over 4 cm, ultrasound greatly expands the sensing range of wearables to cover deep arteries, such as the brachial artery, which is the clinical gold standard measurement location. The unprecedented ability to measure clinical grade brachial blood pressure continuously will lead to more accurate diagnosis and management of hypertension, better prevention of cardiovascular disease, and with the help from machine learning, we may be able to extract new insights into human blood pressure wave patterns for better disease prevention and lifespan elongation.