Your Breath Tells about Your Heart and Health

By  , Agency News
Jun 29, 2013

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Alert sign on heart monitor

You must have heard that a standard physical medical exam often includes a blood test and a urine test, but from now onwards, it may also include a breath test. A new study has found that the "breathprint" can be a standard part of a medical checkup as it can spot heart disease and possibly other health problems. This simple and inexpensive test may soon be available in various pathology laboratories.

Scientists at Cleveland Clinic have discovered a simple and inexpensive breath test that allows doctors to quickly diagnose heart failure and other ailments. The methods that are currently being used for diagnosing heart failure are expensive and complicated. They range from x-rays and echocardiograms to catheterizations, in which doctors thread a catheter through a large artery all the way to the heart itself.

But, this new test takes just 30 seconds and is as simple as blowing up a balloon. In breath test the patient needs to breathe into a mylar balloon, and the air is run through a machine to produce an individual "breathprint." The researchers examined that people with heart failure have an identifiable breathprint, including chemicals like pentane and acetone.

Raed Dweik, MD, who led the study, says the technology has the potential to identify more problems than heart failure. According to him, human breath has thousands of molecules in it, and these molecules can tell a lot about our state of health or disease.

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