Researchers have developed a toilet seat that can detect congestive heart failure. It could be available in homes very soon.
Over a million new cases of congestive heart failure are diagnosed each year. Congestive heart failure is when the heart muscle is not pumping blood as well as it should. Your heart can become too weak or stiff over time which can cause the heart to stop pumping blood efficiently. A weak or stiff heart could be due to various conditions such as high blood pressure or coronary artery disease (narrowed arteries).
However, not all conditions that lead to congestive heart failure can be reversed. Lifestyle changes such as exercising, losing weight and diet management can help improve a patient’s quality of life and in combination with treatments to improve the signs and symptoms, a patient can live longer.
Almost half of patients with congestive heart failure are readmitted within 90 days of discharge
Data indicates that 25% of patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure are readmitted within 30 days of being discharged from a hospital, and after 90 days, 45% are readmitted. Hospitals are now being penalized for readmitting heart failure patients, with annual penalties alone for 150 patients being readmitted costing approximately $500,000.
With the goal of lower readmission rates of congestive heart failure patients, researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology created a toilet-seat based cardiovascular system. This groundbreaking new product was designed to not only allow hospitals to monitor patients but also enable patients to be monitored in the comfort of their own homes.
The results of their current study to demonstrate the toilet seat was effective in monitoring congestive heart failure patients were recently published in JMIR Mhealth Uhealth.
Toilet seat measures the heart’s electrical and mechanical activities
The toilet seats were designed to measure the electrical and mechanical activity of the heart. They can monitor heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels and also the patient’s weight and stroke volume. The patient’s weight and stroke volume is the amount of blood the heart pumps out at every heartbeat.
The findings showed the toilet seat cardiovascular monitoring system was accurate and consistent with gold standards measures for blood pressure, stroke volume, and blood oxygenation. Data from the toilet seat is analyzed and with some further developments, health care providers could be alerted when a patient’s condition deteriorates.
Toilet should be able to detect concerning signs before they manifest
According to the researchers, the toilet seat will be able to pick up on a patient deteriorating before they become symptomatic. A report of the data collected will be provided to cardiologists to determine the course of treatment, if necessary. Capturing this trend data from a patient’s home has previously been unattainable.
The goal is for hospitals to provide the toilet to patients with congestive heart failure after discharge
The idea is for the toilet seat to be purchased by hospitals and given to patients with congestive heart failure after they are discharged from the hospital. The total cost of providing 150 congestive heart failure patients with a toilet-seat based cardiovascular monitoring system to take home is estimated to be $200,000. Therefore, hospitals have the potential of saving more than double their investment within one year if they were to invest in this device.
With the rapid analysis available from the toilet seat data, patients may only need to visit a physician’s office for treatment interventions rather than visiting the hospital. The team of scientists behind developing this revolutionary product to help monitor congestive heart failure patients in their own home are conducting pre-clinical trials with the product and are well underway with getting it FDA approved.
The future development and clinical trials are required to demonstrate the clinical benefit of the technology, especially in reducing congestive heart failure hospitalizations.
Written by Lacey Hizartzidis, PhD
- Toilet seat that detects congestive heart failure getting ready to begin commercialization. EurekAlert website https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-03/riot-tst032019.php. Accessed March 28, 2019.
- Conn NJ, Schwarz KQ, Borkholder DA. In-Home Cardiovascular Monitoring System for Heart Failure: Comparative Study. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2019 Jan 18;7(1):e12419. doi: 10.2196/12419.
- Photo: https://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/196141.php