The MIT research team has developed a smart pill that monitors heart rate and breathing from within the stomach and may be able to identify opiate overdoses as well as diagnose sleep apnea.
Breathing irregularities while sleeping are known as sleep apnea, which can severely impact sleep quality. To diagnose sleep apnea, a patient must conduct a sleep study in a lab or clinic connected to machines that track their heart rate, respiration, and other physiological parameters.
A hospital stay for the night is often required for the diagnosis, during which the patient is connected to machines that track their heart rate, respiration, and other physiological parameters.
Now, an ingestible electronic pill created by Giovanni Traverso and his colleagues at MIT may allow patients to get a wireless, affordable sleep apnea assessment at home.
Approximately the size of a vitamin pill, the gadget has a small accelerometer that detects vibrations in the stomach to assess heart rate and respiration. It also contains a medical implant radio to send this data to an external computer.
The researchers gave ten patients, ages 41 on average, the electronic pill test. Every participant found it easy to swallow the tablet, and none reported any adverse side effects.
Electronic pills can now monitor heart condition
Connecting the subjects to regular monitoring equipment allowed it to assess their heart rate with 96% accuracy and their respiration rate with 93% accuracy after it was inside their stomachs.
According to Traverso and his associates, the tablet may also be administered to opioid users to identify whether they are overdosing and notify others in case they cease breathing.
They put the tablet into the stomach of a pig that had been given anesthesia, and then they gave the pig a high dosage of the opioid fentanyl.
The pig's breathing rate dropped sharply after the fentanyl, which the device picked up on.
This allowed the researchers to provide the naloxone medication, which reversed the effects of the opioid and brought the pig's breathing rate back to normal.
However, since the pill can only be used within a certain time frame and not every day, its usefulness in identifying overdoses may be limited.
The researchers intend to alter it to stay in the stomach for longer.
Additionally, they are investigating methods to modify the tablet so that when an opioid user stops breathing, it delivers naloxone automatically.
- Device. First-in-human trial of an ingestible vitals-monitoring pill.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What Is Sleep Apnea?