A new "smart" toilet could help people keep tabs on their blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels.
A team of scientists at New York's Rochester Institute of Technology invented the seat, which fits over any normal toilet seat, to measure blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels, and other heart data through patients' legs, The Daily Mail reported. The idea behind the invention is to identify signs of heart failure before life-threatening symptoms appear.
Experiments on small groups of patients showed that sensors in the battery-powered toilet seat, which sends data wirelessly, were as accurate as hospital-grade monitoring equipment, according to a report published in the journal, JMIR mHealth.
"This system will be uniquely positioned to capture trend data in the home that has been previously unattainable," the journal reported.
According to the report, the seat, which is equipped with an electrocardiogram, ballistocardiogram, and photoplethysmogram, was invented to help reduce hospitalization rates of heart failure patients as well as curb the cost of health care.
One benefit of the seat is the fact that it solves the problems many patients encounter when it comes to monitoring themselves at home. Some patients are not good at following treatments plans after hospitalization, and others simply do not have the tools they need to take accurate measurements. The seat makes it easier to be proactive about monitoring health, which could ultimately save lives.
Other benefits of the seat include data being automatically transmitted to doctors. In addition, several results measured throughout the day help create a more accurate average.Part of the reason why a toilet seat is a good tool for monitoring health statistics is that the body's largest artery, the aorta, runs through the legs, and sensors on the seat can detect when oxygen levels are low or when blood pressure is high.
Nicholas Conn, founder and CEO of Heart Health Intelligence and a member of the team that developed the seat, said the gadget would pick up on conditions before a patient even realized they were having any symptoms.
Heart failure patients who use the seat could end up saving hospitals thousands of dollars because a reported 25 percent of patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure return to the hospital 30 days after they are discharged, The Daily Mail reported.
The seats, manufactured by Heart Health Intelligence, are reportedly water-proof and do not require any special programming. While they are not cheap at nearly $2,000, the seats offer patients the ability to stay on top of their health in a way they have never had before.