Researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) have developed an intelligent toilet seat monitoring system designed to track the health of patients with heart failure and reduce hospital readmission rates.
Researchers stated in the JMIR mHealth and uHealth journal paper that the new smart toilet seat is waterproof, uses battery power, and connects data to the cloud. Three sensors are placed inside to measure the electrocardiogram (ECG), photoelectric plethysmography (PPG), and electrocardiogram (BCG), which are as accurate as hospital-level monitoring equipment.
At present, Nicholas Conn, a postdoctoral fellow at RIT and a member of the research group, has started a company called Heart Health Intelligence to commercialize the technology. The goal is to provide an FDA-approved device. It will be sold to hospitals in the future and used to transfer it to patients after discharge.
Toilet seat and heart health
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Its heart failure (HF), referred to as HF, is a cardiovascular disease characterized by weakened myocardial function. It affects approximately 6.5 million Americans each year and has more than 960,000 new cases.
Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is weak and cannot maintain sufficient blood flow to meet the needs of the body. Continuous monitoring of blood pressure is critical throughout the management and treatment of heart failure, as optimal blood pressure control is the main goal of heart failure.
According to the data in the paper, heart failure costs the United States an estimated US $ 30.7 billion per year, and is expected to increase by 127% to US $ 69.7 billion by 2030, of which hospitalization accounts for approximately 80% of total heart failure costs. Therefore, reducing the hospitalization rate is an effective way to reduce the cost of heart failure.
Because the onset of heart disease is often sudden and transient, many patients with heart disease were not in the hospital at the time of the onset. The hospital could not record the ECG at the time, and the patients were often in a normal state when they were in the hospital, so they could not be detected. Cause of the disease.
Leifeng.com has learned that some experts have performed experiments. When simulating defecation, the internal pressure of the human body will increase while the blood pressure will rise, and the heart rate will increase accordingly. Middle-aged and elderly people or people with various diseases often have constipation, and their blood pressure rises higher when they defecate. All this increases the burden on the heart and can lead to myocardial infarction.
Researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) designed a smart toilet seat to make it easier for patients with heart failure to monitor their condition more comfortably at home and reduce the rate of rehospitalization.
Principle: Mechanical sensor detects cardiac output
The smart toilet seat developed by Nicholas Conn and RIT engineer David Borkholder uses battery power to directly transmit health data to the cloud and can be cleaned daily with household cleaners. Whenever a user sits on the toilet, the surveillance system automatically captures cardiovascular data without interference.
Since heart failure is characterized by poor cardiac performance, cardiac output (CO) is an important part of the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.
CO is defined as the product of stroke volume (SV) and heart rate (HR) and is usually measured using echocardiography, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or catheterization. In acute heart failure, the heart muscle cannot maintain sufficient CO, and if left untreated, it can lead to chronic heart failure or even death.
Currently, there are no home solutions for remote and accurate monitoring of CO and SV. Patients with hypoxemia (oxygen saturation <90%) need to be hospitalized and need to monitor blood oxygen saturation and other vital signs daily until stable.
The research purpose of Rochester Institute of Technology in the United States is to prove that the cardiovascular monitoring system of the intelligent toilet seat can measure systolic and diastolic blood pressure, stroke volume and blood oxygen saturation.
The toilet seat-based cardiovascular monitoring system is completely independent, battery-powered, wireless and cleanable, and all sensors and electronics are integrated in the seat.
The seat can be used to measure the electrocardiogram (ECG) of the heart, the electrocardiogram (BCG) to measure the mechanical force related to the cardiac cycle and the photoplethysmography (PPG) measurement to measure the cardiac cycle.
Researchers performed eight-week hospital-level vital signs monitoring on 18 subjects, and compared toilet-based blood pressure and peripheral blood oxygenation estimates.
During the test, subjects were unable to speak, urinate, or have a bowel movement, and were sitting at home as usual. Because urination and bowel movement can change stroke volume (SV) and heart rate (HR). Conn said that in the future, the company plans to integrate the data of the part of the urine that is excluded in the urine into the algorithm.
The test results show that the toilet seat-based cardiovascular monitoring system has successfully demonstrated blood pressure, stroke volume and blood oxygen saturation are consistent with the hospital’s gold standard measurement results. The system can capture previously unattainable home heart data.
“Using this toilet seat regularly, patients can know if their heart condition is deteriorating and need to see a doctor. However, it needs to be verified through clinical trials.” Conn said.
Conn said that a hospital accepts 150 discharged patients who are hospitalized and loses up to $ 500,000 per year, while the cost of Heart Health Intelligence’s 150 smart toilet seats is only about $ 200,000.
Toilet related health detection technology
According to Lei Feng’s understanding, this smart toilet cover developed by Rochester Institute of Technology in the United States is not the first example of a “toilet” to detect health conditions. Google, the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, Panasonic in Japan and others have developed smart toilets.
A Google patent describes the smart bathroom of the future. The bathroom is equipped with multiple non-invasive health monitoring instruments, including ultrasonic bathtubs and pressure-sensing toilets, to comprehensively monitor the cardiovascular health of users.
Among them, the pressure-sensitive toilet seat can not only measure blood pressure, but also analyze human excretion. The patent claims that this technology can detect “the functional state and trend of the human physiological system”, so it can alert people before the disease develops.
In 2018, a smart toilet designed by scientists at the University of Cambridge, UK, can detect the health of users, and analyze the health of the human body through a “urine test”.
According to Leifeng.com, the built-in optical sensor in this smart toilet can capture biomarkers in the urine between gold nanoparticles and make them emit different colors, so that they can measure their concentration levels, and the monitored organisms Markers can reveal a lot of information about a person’s body.
The smart toilet can also send monitoring reports to mobile phones, and even remind users’ personal doctors.
In addition to measuring body fat percentage, body water content, muscle level and other data, Panasonic’s smart toilet can also perform urine detection. The user only needs to place the urine sample in the urine detector while using the toilet, and it can automatically analyze the urine components, read 7 routine data such as urine pH value, occult blood, creatinine, etc., for health self-test Provide the appropriate basis.
However, most current health-related toilet technologies focus on analyzing urine and feces in the toilet bowl, rather than using sensors in the seat to track vital signs to detect physical illness.