A blog by Thomas Boto, co-founder of Natural Rhythm
A few months back, my cousin underwent his second treatment for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). His treatment was relatively successful, but I began to grow worried that my “benign” heart palpitations would evolve into atrial fibrillation since I had read somewhere online that it was a possibility (I’m not sure if that is actually true, but it definitely got me thinking about it, and I wanted a way to track, or at least monitor, my heart palpitations). Atrial fibrillation carries with it a higher risk of stroke, so I thought it would be awesome if there was a cheaper way to get an EKG than going to the doctor. I even thought it would save me some time and money if I just bought a used full scale EKG machine online (heart palpitations make you do crazy things ). But once I started doing some research I came across a cool little product called AliveCor. It’s certainly not a full replacement of a 12 node EKG report, but it can detect heart arrhythmias, particularly A-fib.
I bought mine on Amazon and the cost was only $95 (I admit that can be lot of money, at least for me, but compared to a doctor’s visit and a EKG test, it seemed reasonable). I was skeptical at first, but I’ve actually been really impressed at what this little device can do.
AliveCor is a small rectangular device that records ECGs and your heart rate. All you have to do is place your fingers on the little metal pads. It sends the data to a free AliveCor app you download on your smartphone. You can also stick the device on the back of a phone case for easier use, but I actually found it worked best when I set it flat on a table next to the phone. If you did decide to stick the device on your phone case, you can also rest the phone case electrodes on your chest and get a reading that way. Once your ECG/pulse rate is recorded and saved, you can add notes as well as send your recording to your Cardiologist. You can also have a specialist look at your readings as well for a small fee (around $12).
I won’t do a step-by-step review of the product today, but I have included some images below to show you what it looks like. It’s very simple and easy to use, and seems pretty effective. It’s obviously not going to replace a full EKG (yet) and I don’t think it’s necessarily going to detect a heart attack (and of course there is always the risk of false positives as well), but I was really impressed with this little device.
Overall, I think it’s a really great product. It seemed really reliable to me and most of the reviews I read were very positive. If you have heart palpitations or an arrhythmia, I definitely think it’s worth looking into. As I mentioned above, I use it to track my palpitations and make notes on when they occur and why I think they may be happening. I think it’s also helpful to keep a record for your doctor/cardiologist. Remember, they are trying to solve a mystery with limited information. In my opinion, the more information you can give them the better.
So check out AliveCor and let me know what you think!