Now, an electronic nose to sniff out heart failure

Updated: Sep 27, 2011, 17:22 PM IST

Washington: A completely new non-invasive method to identify heart failure - associated with significantly reduced physical and mental health, resulting in a markedly decreased quality of life - has been developed by a German team.

It consists of an “electronic nose” which could make the “smelling” of heart failure possible.

“The early detection of chronic heart failure (CHF) through periodical screening facilitates early treatment application,” investigator Vasileios Kechagias from the University Hospital Jena said.

The “electronic nose” system consists of an array of three thick-film metal oxide based gas sensors with heater elements. Each of the sensors has a slightly different sensitivity to various odorant molecular types.

Interactions between molecules and the sensor are caused by reactions with oxygen on the heated sensor surface leading to a change of the free charge carrier concentrations and thus to a change in conductivity in the metal oxide layer.

The odour components are divided by a statistical analysis into two principal components. In all patients, data acquisition was possible.

The patients with decompensated heart failure could be divided from compensated heart failure with 89 percent sensitivity and 88 percent specificity. Cardiovascular drug use was not different in these groups.

On the other hand, patients without heart failure (control group) were different from the patients with heart failure in the principal-component analysis (89 percent sensitivity and 84 percent specificity).

The project was presented at the ESC Congress 2011.