An Electronic Sensor Could Smell the Stench of Heart Disease

Go ahead and add heart disease to the never ending list of ailments that can be detected by a non-human nose, German researchers have created a sensor that can smell heart disease.

According to Cnet's Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, the device in question is a metal-oxide gas sensor that is strapped on the arm like a blood pressure sensor and can operate with 90% accuracy.

The system includes three thick-film metal oxide-based gas sensors with heater elements. Each is tailored to sense different odorant molecular types. As oxygen reacts to the heated sensor surface, the molecules interact with the sensors and change the free charge carrier concentrations, and thus conductivity, in the metal oxide layer.

Having already collected the relevant parameters for heart failure (BNP, creatinine, clinical history, etc.) in 126 patients in 2010, physicians blinded to those results then used the electronic nose to assign the patients to one of three groups: no heart failure, and then two types of chronic heart failure—compensated (a condition where treatment is able to compensate for the failure) and decompensated (where treatment is not working, and can be caused by arrhythmias, infections, electrolyte disturbances, etc.).

So let's tally, shall we? There's a handheld device that can detect cancer, a dime-shaped device that can detect cancer andHIV, a sensor that can "smell" cancer, a microscope that can spot cancer, dogs that smell cancer as though it were halitosis, and now this, a sensor that detects heart disease. Terminal illnesses can run, but they can't hide. [Cnet]