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Northwestern Medicine Study Examines Sweat Chemistry and Cardiovascular Health

Can the chemistry of your sweat determine how healthy your heart is? A new study, enrolling participants at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, is researching how wearable sweat sensors could be used to monitor chronic cardiovascular conditions.

Jay A. Pandit, MD, medical director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute West Region Research Program, is collaborating with the Rogers Research Group at Northwestern University, to enroll patients over the age of 18 in the Blood and Sweat Chemistry in Cardiology (BASIC) study.

The study uses patches designed by the Rogers Research Group* to adhere to skin and capture sweat. Sweat collected from study participants under both rest and stress conditions is compared to standard blood and urine specimens to evaluate if there is a correlation between proteins and metabolites found in blood and urine and those found in sweat.

“We are interested to see if sweat testing could be a non-invasive way to monitor potassium, sodium, glucose, lactic acid and other chemicals related to cardiovascular health,” said Dr. Pandit. “If levels of these substances in sweat can accurately tell us what is in the blood, it may be possible to more easily monitor people remotely with fewer blood tests.”

Additionally, the study is looking for a protein called B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), which cardiologists track to help guide treatment of congestive heart failure. BNP rises when the heart is not pumping correctly.

Pandit says one application of the wearable device could be for patients who are hospitalized for heart failure. These patients are at a high risk of readmission within the first week of leaving the hospital. Upon discharge, patients would wear the sweat patch for seven days to monitor BNP and possibly prevent readmissions.

Dr. Jay Pandit conducts a sweat test as part of the BASIC studyParticipants in the BASIC study are helping researchers develop a set of norms for substances in sweat. The volunteers wear the sweat patch while undergoing a treadmill stress test and while sitting in a portable sauna to see if the data is different during activity and rest. They also undergo blood and urine testing. The goal is to recruit at least 25 participants.

73-year-old Rosemary Henders, of Batavia, says she was intrigued by the idea that sweat could possibly reveal something about her heart. She volunteered for the study and says the tests were easy to complete.

“I find it gratifying to participate in studies that will provide useful information about aging,” said Henders. “It was simple to do and I was inspired by the hope that it will advance science.”

The Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute West Region Research Program was developed in 2019 to offer cardiovascular patients in the western suburbs greater access to the latest clinical trials at Northwestern Medicine. Several active trials are now underway at Central DuPage and Delnor Hospitals with multiple others in the pipeline.

The studies include a novel device to diagnose valvular heart disease; new technologies in preventing stroke; a new medication for heart failure; and the use of artificial intelligence to diagnose blood pressure and congestive heart failure.

The Rogers Research Group, under the direction of John A. Rogers, PhD, has completed groundbreaking work in microfluidics and bio-integrated electronics. In addition to the sweat patches, the group has developed technologies including a skin-like wireless wearable device for monitoring newborn babies; wearable microfluidics for tracking biofluids non-invasively; and wireless wearable sensors to monitor UV light exposure.

To enroll in the study, please reach out to the Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute West Region research team at 630.938.3653.