Using toilet seat technology to monitor vital heart signs

Using toilet seat technology to monitor vital heart signs

The numbers don’t lie: America is aging. Experts say that over the next 40 years, not only is the number of people aged 65 and up expected to double, 80% of them also will have some form of heart disease.

That translates into more than 6 million adults with congestive heart failure racking up billions of dollars a year in medical costs. With most of that coming from hospitalizations and readmissions, there is strong incentive to help these patients manage their conditions — and from home.

The problem is that many patients simply don’t do their homework. Research shows patients are not always diligent in taking their medications or in using the devices they are given to measure blood pressure and other health indicators. In part, that’s because they get frustrated while wrestling with blood pressure cuffs, wearable devices and other tools.

Researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology think they have found the answer by transforming something most people use at least once a day: the toilet seat.

The team is developing a toilet seat that captures important data from different parts of the body. For instance, sensors built into the seat measure blood oxygenation by reading the back of the thigh rather than a finger. Using custom circuitry, the seat can capture and relay heart beats and other vital information.

The best part? Users don’t have to learn any new technology or change their daily routines. All they have to do is sit down, something they already know how to do.

The team is aiming for FDA approval of the device within a year.

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