Cleveland Clinic study finds breath test can diagnose heart failure

CLEVELAND - A study conducted at the Cleveland Clinic found that a simple breath test can determine whether a patient has heart failure.

Dr. Raed Dweik, a pulmonologist at the Clinic, analyzed the breath of study patients who exhaled into a deflated balloon and found a difference between those with heart failure and those without.

"The breath it turns out has a lot of molecules in it," Dweik said. "Every time we exhale we expel thousands of molecules in our exhaled breath."

Dweik said it comes from a variety of sources, including diet, bacteria or the environment.

"But also a lot of diseases change the composition of the breath," he said.

The breath test is non-invasive and less expensive than current ways of identifying heart failure, such as blood tests and EKGs.

Studies are ongoing, but Dweik said breath analysis is the new frontier in medical testing. He said it may even be done in the home one day.

"What to do with it is the next step," he said. "Are we able to identify these patients before they get the heart failure or not? We have to study that. Are we able to monitor them over time and see when they get better does the breath get better as well? These are ongoing studies that we are doing and hopefully we'll be able to monitor these patients better and diagnose them better in the future."

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