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Hi-Tech Health Monitor Works When You Swallow It

REDWOOD CITY (KPIX 5) -- A Redwood City-based company has invented a revolutionary new health monitoring system that involves swallowing a tiny sensor that transmits information to an external body monitor and stores the information online.

Lori Beth Eisenstadt is a married, stay-at-home mom of three who runs a very busy household. You can get tired just watching her work.

"You know I'm sort of the boss. I'm in charge. I'm the CEO of their entire world in terms of everything. And of course especially their health," said Eisenstadt

When it comes to health, the Dublin resident also looks after her father who's legally blind, and who suffers from a variety of health problems.

"I take about 30 pills a day," said Alan Fink.

"My mom works full time and so he's home by himself, so I worry a lot," said Eisenstadt.

Now a Bay Area company has created a digital medical device that may help put this busy woman's mind at ease. It uses wireless technology. But you don't just wear it, you swallow it.

"There's a real revolution going on," explained David O'Reilly, chief product officer at Proteus Digital Health in Redwood City.

The device is called "Helius." Central to its operation is a tiny poppyseed-size speck which is actually a powerful, ingestible sensor.

"It's incredibly safe. It's composed of things that are already in your diet." said O'Reilly. These are tiny bits of minerals including magnesium and copper.

Studies done on animals and humans show the device is safe.

The tiny sensor is embedded into a tablet. Once swallowed, the device uses your stomach fluid as a power source. It transmits a unique digital code to a second sensor - a smart patch you wear on your body like a Band-Aid.

The patch is collecting information on what you ingest, when you ingest it and is also collecting information on your body's physiology like your heart rate, your physical activity, your sleep patterns and things of that nature," said O'Reilly.

The smart patch then sends the data via Bluetooth to a secure cloud-based server and then to anyone the patient chooses, such as physicians or family members.

O'Reilly said it may especially help patients with heart failure, hypertension and diabetes where better information on how people take their medicines and how their bodies respond can really lead to better outcomes.

As for Lori Beth Eisenstadt, she can find out if her father is taking his medication and if he's taking it on time. A patient's doctor can also look at the data and if the medication is actually working.

"Because he has got a lot of medical issues at play, I think it's a win," said Eisenstadt.

"It's very thought-provoking it's very interesting," said Mr. Fink.

Before users take it, they should make sure the system is affordable and the information remains private.

The FDA has approved the device but, for now, it's only used in commercial pilot studies around the Bay Area as well as California.

Proteus Website

FDA Safety Review (.pdf)

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