The e-tattoo attaches to the chest for continuous, mobile heart monitoring. (Credit: University of Texas at Austin)

A new flexible, wearable medical device could provide a major boost in the fight against heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. The ultrathin, lightweight electronic tattoo, or e-tattoo, attaches to the chest for continuous, mobile heart monitoring outside of a clinical setting. It includes two sensors that together provide a clear picture of heart health, giving clinicians a better chance to catch red flags for heart disease early.

The e-tattoo weighs only 2.5 grams and runs on a battery the size of a penny. The battery has a life of more than 40 hours and can easily be changed by the user. It provides two key heart measurements. The electrocardiogram, or ECG, is the electrical signal from the heart. And the seismocardiogram, or SCG, is the acoustic signal from the heart that comes from the heart valves.

ECG can be measured by mobile devices such as an Apple Watch. And the SCG can be monitored via stethoscope. But there is no mobile solution that approximates a stethoscope or takes both measurements.