Breath Test Spots Diseases

With most diseases, an early diagnosis means a better prognosis, but sometimes it's difficult, painful and expensive to test for illnesses. Now there's a new way to spot a variety of conditions and all it takes is a simple breath.

You inhale….and you exhale…

Every minute, the average person takes about 15 breaths and researchers at the Cleveland Clinic say those breaths can reveal a lot about your health.

"Anything in your blood that is potentially volatile will end up in your breath."  Dr. Raed Dweik, MD, Director of the Pulmonary Vascular Program at the Cleveland Clinic told Ivanhoe.

Researchers have been studying whether a simple breath test could detect conditions like liver, kidney and heart disease. In a recent pilot study they were able to show the test was 100 percent accurate at identifying patients with heart failure.

"We were so surprised by it that we actually did it twice!"  Dr. Dweik said.

They duplicated the results in the second trial. The test has also been able to detect patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis, a condition that has no diagnostic test.

"With more than a 90 percent accuracy, we could pick these patients every time we tested them." Dr. Dweik explained.

Lung cancer is another disease picked up by the breath test. Previous studies have shown around 80 percent accuracy, but at the 2013 chest conference, Dr. Peter Mazzone reported on an advanced version of the sensor.

"The early results suggest that we've been able to improve our accuracy."  Dr. Mazzone told Ivanhoe.

Offering patients a simple, pain-free glimpse into their health.

Doctors hope the test will be able to detect other cancers in the future. A study testing the breath test on kidney disease patients is ending and doctors say the results will be published soon.

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