Life-Saving Vests Shock Your Heart Back to Life

Students at Johns Hopkins University designed a wearable defibrillator that shocks users to normalize heartbeats.
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Students at Johns Hopkins University designed a wearable defibrillator that shocks users to normalize heartbeats.
Defibrillator Vest

Photo Credit: Will Kirk/homewoodphoto.jhu.edu

Many who have recently suffered a heart attack or underwent heart surgery are recommended to use defibrillators to monitor their heart rhythms. However, 20 percent of these patients don't actually keep defibrillators on them at all times. To help make the use of the heart-monitoring gadgets a little easier, biomedical engineering students at Johns Hopkins University designed wearable defibrillators that will send a shock of electricity to normalize heartbeats.

Usually, defibrillators are uncomfortable and bulky. What the students created was waterproof, stretchable, inconspicuous and comfortable to wear. Equipped with sensors, the vest monitors the patient and sends information to a small display, not unlike a smartwatch. If the vest detects irregular and possibly deadly heart rhythms, it will send the patient a shock of 200 joules to bring the heartbeat back to normal. 

"We just changed the form of the device. We pursued a 'slip-on and forget' approach to minimize the user's need to maintain and interact with the device," said team member Melinda Chen. 

If this life-saving vest does hit the market, it won't be anytime soon. The team has put the defibrillator through testing using mannequins that can mimic a human's heartbeat. They will be further polishing the prototype and will be putting it through more testing.