Christie Clinic Breaking Ground to Pinpoint Cause of Shortness of Breath

December 08, 2010

New “no stress” medical test is simple to take for even high risk patients

“A patient with shortness of breath—especially when doing normal daily activities—could have a serious underlying condition. We can now identify the cause with accuracy and get patients feeling better faster.” -Dr. Abe Kocheril

Shortness of breath can be scary for patients, and it is one of the top reasons they come to Christie Clinic. According to Abe Kocheril, MD, FACC, FACP, FHRS, who specializes in cardiac electrophysiology, “Shortness of breath could be a symptom of any number of different problems including allergies, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary hypertension, heart disease, and others.”

Evaluating shortness of breath, or dyspnea, can be difficult and complicated. Now identifying the reason behind a patient’s dyspnea is easier thanks to a new test being used at Christie Clinic. The test is called Shape-HF, and Christie Clinic is one of the few centers in the country to offer it.  Shape-HF involves having the patient step up and down on a stable exercise platform for three minutes at a comfortable pace while breathing into a tube and wearing a finger pulse oximeter. As the patient breathes, air flow and oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations of both inhaled and exhaled air are measured. Because this device quantifies the severity of dyspnea on exertion and evaluates the interaction between the heart, lungs, and other organ systems involved in oxygen uptake and transport, physicians have an objective view into a patient’s physiology.

Until now, obtaining this relevant clinical information has been out of reach for most clinics and no other test is equivalent. Procedures including the echocardiogram, chest X-ray, pulmonary function test, chest CT scan, as well as others are done while the patient is at rest, which doesn’t show the patient’s physiology while exercising. And, because the traditional cardiopulmonary exercise stress test is cumbersome, few clinics use it because it is hard for the patient to perform.

According to Dr. Kocheril, “This test allows us to easily evaluate the patient, diagnose the problem and its severity, and conduct follow-up tests to measure the response to treatment. Any patient with shortness of breath can take this test. It really helps us pinpoint the problem before the patient’s symptoms become worse.”

Dr. Kocheril recommends that anyone experiencing shortness of breath seek medical advice from their physician. To ensure an accurate diagnosis, however, patients should feel comfortable in asking their doctors whether they might benefit from a noninvasive cardiopulmonary test such as Shape-HF.

About Shape-HF

Shape-HF is FDA-approved and has been clinically validated against the most sophisticated research grade cardiopulmonary exercise testing systems. Shape Medical Systems Inc. is a privately held, St. Paul, Minnesota-based medical device company whose core technology lies in the development and commercialization of products for assessing heart/lung interaction and ventilation in chronic heart failure and other cardiopulmonary disease. Shape's clear mission is to develop products that increase the quality of patients' lives by helping doctors quantify shortness of breath; assess patient functional capacity; optimize drug, device, and rehabilitation therapy; and monitor patient progress. Shape testing provides evidence-based outcomes.  Shape Medical Systems was founded in 2004. The Shape-HF System, testing protocols, and applications are protected by patent 7,225,022 and other U.S. and foreign patents issued and pending.