Helpware: Kardia Mobile takes an EKG on the fly

July 16, 2018 

My family thinks Iím a bit of a hypochondriac, but at my age I want to head off potential problems before they turn into ones that require expensive medical attention.

I have a portable blood-pressure set. To check my blood sugar level, I have a set of lancets and test strips. A drop of blood makes the doctor go away.

Twice a year I have comprehensive blood tests at my HMOís laboratory. I get my teeth cleaned three times a year.

And I exercise: a 40-minutes brisk walk early in the morning and two 35-minute sessions on my recumbent bike. Itís no wonder that I can still fog a mirror.

And so, when I heard about a device about the size of a stick of gum that took EKGs, I had to have it.

The AliveCor Kardia Mobile communicates with a smartphone or tablet through the microphone. Like an EKG at the doctorís office, the Kardia Mobile traces heart rhythm ó and it displays results after a 30-second session. Two fingers are placed on each of the two sensors, and the device, which weighs less than two ounces, sorts it all out. If your heart rhythm is normal, youíll get that message on your smartphone. Heart rhythm problems are displayed, too, along with background information. People with atrial fibrillation will know if they need to see their cardiologist and whether the medication theyíre taking is working.

The first EKG is sent to a cardiologist, and within 24 hours the results are sent via email to your inbox. After that, you can email the results to your cardiologist or to yourself for framing purposes, as in "hereís how a septuagenarianís EKG should look."

Thereís a premium plan in which EKGs can be stored, among other features. The premium plan is necessary for using with the optional Apple Watch EKG. The first month is free, and then it costs $10 a month. I chose the basic plan, which tells me how my heart is doing, along with how fast my heart beats when I find a new gadget.

There are downsides to the Kardia Mobile. The device canít be used near a computer or other electronic device. Sometimes it takes several minutes for it to connect to my iPhone. And way-too-often, it will give me messages that a proper reading canít be made. About two out of five attempts work as advertised. For some, that may be a non-starter.

But when it works, itís a joy to see, especially if youíre concerned about your heart health. It wonít take the place of the EKG you get in your doctorís office, but at best, it will give you a heads-up that something is wrong heart-rhythm-wise.

The device costs $99 from either or A band for an Apple Watch, with the sensor built into the band, costs $199.



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