The Future of Disease Detection

Heart Disease

  • An experimental breath test, designed to quickly identify patients suffering from heart failure has demonstrated promise in early trials.
  • Study teams have so far been able to correctly diagnose heart failure among newly hospitalized patients with a 100 percent accuracy.
  • The breath test correctly identified all the patients with heart failure, clearly distinguishing them from those cardiac cases where heart failure was not an issue.


  • The leading cause of death for both men and women.
  • Every 60 seconds someone dies from a heart disease-related event, about 610,000 Americans (2009). Every 7 minutes in Canada at over 69,500 (2011).
  • US and Canadian economic losses exceed $121 billion every year in physician services, hospital costs,
    lost wages and decreased productivity

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“Looking at one particular breath sample can be compared with a snapshot. Looking at the dynamics of the concentrations of specific compounds during a full night or during a challenge might be even more interesting. The challenge may be an exogenous ingested compound, such as fructose in the hydrogen breath test (for carbohydrate malabsorption), 13 C-urea in the breath test for infection with Helicobacter pylori or 13 C-uracil in the breath test for dihydropyrimidine-dehydrogenase deficiency.

The vision for exhaled breath analysis is a broad use in clinical applications: for ‘personalized’ screening, diagnosis and treatment monitoring. Over the next decade, we will see the appearance of miniaturized equipment. Sensitivity will greatly increase, and breath tests based on isotopically labeled compounds (e.g., using 13 C as in urea or uracil) will provide fast, inexpensive and easy-to-use clinical applications.”

Source: Expert Review of Molecular Diagnostics. 11.2 (Mar. 2011): Author(s): Anton Amann, Massimo Corradi, Peter Mazzone and Antonio Mutti.