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"Electronic Nose" with Gas Sensors 'Smells' Heart Failure

A research team in Germany has developed an "electronic nose" for "smelling" heart failure. The nose is part of a novel non-invasive method for early detection of heart failure.

The electronic system comprises an array of three gas sensors having heating elements. The gas sensors are based on thick-film metal oxide. The sensors have varying sensitivity to sense different odorant molecular types. The sensor and odorant molecules interact due to reactions that occur between the molecules and oxygen on the sensor’s heated surface. This leads to a variation in the conductivity due to variations in free charge carrier concentrations. These processes lead to a variation in the metal oxide layer’s conductivity. The researchers then divided the odor components into two types of principal components using statistical analysis.

Electronic nose system

Heart failure decreases quality of life and affects physical and mental health. It is an expensive, common deadly condition. As the disease progresses it leads to a high rate of morbidity and mortality.

The research team conducted a study of patients having various degrees of heart failure. They screened 250 patients and selected 126 for the study. They collected heart failure parameters, such as BNP, blood gas analysis, creatinine, and minerals, and then performed a clinical assessment based on the clinical history, echocardiography, laboratory, and exercise stress test. Patients were categorized into groups namely no heart failure, moderate heart failure and decompensated heart failure, based on values derived from the electronic nose. The investigators evaluated limitations of physical activity when the patients were at rest and when they were active. The "electronic nose" was then used for measurement, followed by offline-data-analysis.

The German research team presented the "electronic nose" project at the ESC Congress 2011.

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