Skip to content

Opioid Overdoses Now Detectable With New Smartphone App

Detection of opioid overdoses and subsequent death are sometimes missed because there is no one around to help. Now scientists have created a smartphone app that beams sound waves to measure breathing and can summon help.

The app while still experimental, is so promising, that it has already been submitted to the FDA for approval.

The app detected early signs of overdose in the critical minutes after people injected heroin or other illegal drugs.


Opioid: Alarming Statistics

More than 47,000 people in the U.S. died of opioid overdoses in 2017. The way these drugs work is that they suppress breathing The new smartphone app measures the chests rise and fall and can detect the slow-shallow breaths that signal trouble.

The research team picked the smartphone because just about everyone owns one. The owner must have the phone within three feet distance. Currently, they are also working on the phone also self-dialing for help.

The smartphone was tested at an injection site in Vancouver, British Columbia. This is where people are allowed to bring in illegal drugs and inject themselves under medical supervision in case of overdose. Study participants agreed to have a physician place the app-running cellphone nearby during their regularly monitored visit.

Results showed that the software correctly identified breathing problems that could signal an overdose. The app triggers an alarm if the person has seven or fewer breaths a minute. The app accurately triggered 90% of the time, and two of the ninety four participants were successfully resuscitated.

Opioid: Breathing Detection Under Anesthesia

The smartphone app was also in patients who did not use opioid drugs and were about to have elective surgery.

Anesthesia mimics how an overdose shuts down breathing.

Measuring 30 seconds of slowed or absent breathing as patients were anesthetized, the app correctly predicted 19 of 20 simulated overdoses.

The one missed case was a patient breathing slightly faster than the app’s cutoff.

Posted in

Leave a Comment

This will close in 0 seconds

Scroll To Top