A German team has developed a completely new non-invasive method to identify heart failure.
It consists of an “electronic nose” which could make the “smelling” of heart failure possible.
The project was presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2011.
“The early detection of chronic heart failure (CHF) through periodical screening facilitates early treatment application,” said investigator Vasileios Kechagias from the University Hospital Jena.
Heart failure is a common, costly, disabling and potentially deadly condition. In developed countries, around 2% of adults suffer from heart failure, but in those over the age of 65, this increases to 6-10%. Mostly due to costs of hospitalisation, it is associated with high health expenditure. Heart failure is associated with significantly reduced physical and mental health, resulting in a markedly decreased quality of life. Although some people survive many years, progressive disease is associated with an overall increased mortality and morbidity.
“We conducted a daily screening of patients with different degrees of heart failure. For the study, eligible patients were enrolled after informed consent, and the collected data was anonymous. Measurements were made in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences, Jena. The participating physicians of the Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital of Jena, were responsible for patient recruitment and analysis of clinical data,” explained Kechagias.
In particular, the relevant laboratory parameters for heart failure (BNP, minerals, creatinine, blood gas analysis) were collected and a clinical assessment of heart failure based on the available parameters (clinical history, laboratory, echocardiography, and exercise stress test) was performed. In 2010, the researchers screened a total of 250 patients and included 126 in the clinical study. In the course of the study, testing was optimized through a standardized skin preparation.
The assignment of patients to the different groups (no heart failure vs. moderate heart failure vs. decompensated heart failure) was performed by physicians blinded for the measured values through the electronic nose.
Two groups were formed with CHF patients: one with decompensated (n=27) heart failure and one with compensated (n=25) heart failure. For the clinical manifestation of the decompensated heart failure, investigators evaluated the marked limitation of any activity where the patient is comfortable only at rest (Class III) or the state in which any physical activity brings on discomfort and symptoms occur at rest (Class IV). Furthermore, they screened a control group of patients without heart failure symptoms (n=28). Then the measurement with the “electronic nose” randomly took place, from 10 cycles of 3 minutes each and a subsequent offline data analysis.
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