London, February 23 : Electronics giant Philips is all set to create a sensor bed that keeps a close watch on the health of heart failure patients, a project being funded by the European Union.
One of the aims of the 'My Heart' project is to help spot heart problems several days before they become life threatening, say reports.
The new initiative results from health experts' belief that the need for emergency hospitalisation may be reduced, if beds and clothing are equipped with such devices as may monitor heart patients' condition.
Philips will install an electronic weight scale and blood pressure monitor in the new bed. The devices to be packed in the bed will also include sensors that measure heart rate, breathing rate, and body movements while sleeping.
Besides, the patient could wear a vest with woven-in electrodes that provide a full electro-cardiogram reading.
The information gathered through such devices would be analysed on a PDA, and the results sent via a telephone line or broadband connection to doctors.
People involved in the project say that the device could even provide clues to interrupted sleep by measuring sleep phase patterns.
However, Dr. Nick Robinson, a member of the Royal Society of Medicine's Telehealth forum, believes that it will be really very difficult for doctors to accurately interpret the information gained through such technologies.
"We are used to making decisions based on taking a blood pressure reading on an occasional basis - and all the evidence we have for intervening is based on this," the BBC quoted him as saying.
"The real challenge for this technology is not taking the measurements, but working out what to do with it, so that we are not constantly getting false alarms," he added.
It is yet unclear as to which EU countries involved in the four-year project will be chosen to test the technology, or when it will be marketed.