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Wearable Current-Based ECG Monitoring System with Non-Insulated Electrodes for Underwater Application

: Gradl, S.; Cibis, T.; Lauber, J.; Richer, R.; Rybalko, R.; Pfeiffer, N.; Leutheuser, H.; Wirth, M.; Tscharner, V. von; Eskofier, B.M.

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Applied Sciences 7 (2017), No.12, Art. 1277, 15 pp.
ISSN: 2076-3417
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IIS ()
ECG; immersion; underwater technology

The second most common cause of diving fatalities is cardiovascular diseases. Monitoring the cardiovascular system in actual underwater conditions is necessary to gain insights into cardiac activity during immersion and to trigger preventive measures. We developed a wearable, current-based electrocardiogram (ECG) device in the eco-system of the FitnessSHIRT platform. It can be used for normal/dry ECG measuring purposes but is specifically designed to allow underwater signal acquisition without having to use insulated electrodes. Our design is based on a transimpedance amplifier circuit including active current feedback. We integrated additional cascaded filter components to counter noise characteristics specific to the immersed condition of such a system. The results of the evaluation show that our design is able to deliver high-quality ECG signals underwater with no interferences or loss of signal quality. To further evaluate the applicability of the system, we performed an applied study with it using 12 healthy subjects to examine whether differences in the heart rate variability exist between sitting and supine positions of the human body immersed in water and outside of it. We saw significant differences, for example, in the RMSSD and SDSD between sitting outside the water (36 ms) and sitting immersed in water (76 ms) and the pNN50 outside the water (6.4%) and immersed in water (18.2%). The power spectral density for the sitting positions in the TP and HF increased significantly during water immersion while the LF/HF decreased significantly. No significant changes were found for the supine position.