Breath of Life for Heart Patients

August 30, 2013 5:46:27 PM PDT
Heart failure, 5.7 million people in the U.S. have it and 55,000 die from it each year. By definition, it means your heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support all your other organs. Now, a simple breath test could make it easier and faster for doctors to diagnose.

From India to China, Australia to Europe, Pat Patwardhan is an international business man.

"I've been to Paris at least 40 times, but who's counting," Pat Patwardhan said.

Even though Pat still watches the financial world closely, there are other numbers he has his eyes on, like his blood pressure and weight. Pat's suffering from heart failure.

"It came to me like a shock," Pat said.

Early diagnosis can help people live longer, but most people are not diagnosed until after a heart attack happens. Now, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are working on a simple breath test that could identify heart failure right away.

"Everything that's in our blood that is potentially volatile; we'll end up in detecting it in the breath," Raed A. Dweik, MD, Director for the Pulmonary Vascular Program, Respiratory Institute at the Cleveland Clinic said.

It includes specific markers of heart failure.

Patients blow into this breath capture device. Within minutes, the molecules in the breath are analyzed.

"Five of those peaks could 100 percent tell whether a patient has heart failure or not. This is really a big deal," Dr. Dweik said.

"It's exciting news," Pat said.

Now that he knows what's wrong, Pat's managing it and moving forward.

"You live on your adrenaline. You take the next opportunity and you go with it," Pat explained.

Pat was included in a small research study at the Cleveland Clinic that found the breath test to be 100 percent accurate. Despite those results, more research must be done before the test is available to the public. Heart failure costs the nation more than 34 billion dollars each year to diagnose and treat. Doctors hope this test will cut back on those costs, allowing patients to take the test at the doctors' office or even in their home.