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Breath Test for Heart Failure

Noninvasive analysis detects leading cause of hospital readmissions (Mar. 25)

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic have identified heart failure in patients by using exhaled breath analysis, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The study showed that a noninvasive test based on patients’ unique “breath prints” is able to distinguish between those with heart failure and those without the disorder. The findings provide a new way to identify individuals who may be at risk for hospital readmission because of heart failure, according to the authors.

Hospital readmission rates are under increased scrutiny, as Medicare payments will be cut for health care systems with higher-than-expected readmission rates for certain diagnoses, including heart failure. Recent data, reported in the January 2013 issue of JAMA, show that the 30-day readmission rate after hospitalization for heart failure was 25% in the U.S.; 61% of those cases were readmitted within 15 days of hospitalization.

Detecting heart failure through exhaled breath relies on the analysis of hundreds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Using technology from previous research to identify VOCs that correlate with the presence of cardiovascular disease, investigators conducted a prospective, single-center study to assess whether exhaled breath analysis can identify patients admitted to the hospital with acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF).

The study included 61 patients. Twenty-five patients were admitted with heart failure as a primary diagnosis, and 16 control subjects had a non-heart failure cardiovascular categorization. An additional 36 subjects were used to validate the positive research findings.

Source: Cleveland Clinic; March 25, 2013.

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