The Check-Up: Sniffing Out Heart Failure (Literally)

Plus how your dryer might be killing you and a possible bird-flu comeback—today's health headlines

For the record, if you post a story about an electronic nose that can detect heart failure, and you don’t include a photo, you’re leaving a lot to my imagination. In this case, I’m picturing the device, which sniffs sweat for specific odorous molecules, like those Groucho Marx disguise glasses—you know the ones: the plastic, black-rimmed spectacles with the giant nose and attached mustache. Anyone?

In any event, this heart-failure-detecting nose is the real deal, people; researchers in Germany invented it, and in preliminary tests, they say, it’s proved successful in correctly identifying heart failure 86 percent of the time, and ruling out the condition in 84 percent of cases. Not bad odds. The hope is that this device could lead to faster diagnoses and thus, speedier treatment. I just hope it’s something the doctor actually wears on his face. And if it looks anything like the Groucho Marx glasses, even better.

Read more about the high-tech nose, plus dryer-vent carcinogens and a possible resurgence of the bird flu, over here.