Download the android app: Free
Purchase the monitor: £75 approx.
Developer: AliveCor, David Albert
Thus far, my reviews have been mostly confined to apps, with the only exception being Windows/Linux software, simECG. This review is quite exciting for me, as it involves a physical monitor as well as a companion app. I picked up the now world-famous AliveCor Mobile ECG Monitor a couple of days ago to road test it, and I’m pleased to say that for patients, it’s fantastic, and for students, it’s just as good.
As far as functionality goes, this app serves as a personal event monitor with a particular focus on atrial fibrillation, and it has a ton of nice features that make it a worthwhile investment for patients regular to cardiac departments.
Out of the box, the dual-electrode plate can be attached to the back of your mobile device via an adhesive strip, or kept separate; AliveCor works either way, and if you do attach the monitor and change your phone, you can pick up additional attachment plates for around £6.
Obtaining a trace is a very quick process; it only took me a few seconds to open the app and begin recording, and the trace is saved automatically after 15 seconds, with the limit set at 30. The user is then presented with a series of tick-able boxes such as hand or chest ECG, and a notes section to document any symptoms. These are then stored with the trace.
In this video, you can see that AliveCor jumps straight into recording once fired up.
Heart rate and beat fluctuation are tracked and graphed automatically to allow patients to relate multiple recordings in conjunction with the particular activity being performed during monitor operation.
In addition to this, the app comes with an algorithm that determines the presence of atrial fibrillation and keeps track of how many instances this occurs.
AliveCor offers a great deal of options when it comes to sharing data and to physical useage: once the trace has been recorded, the user can email it, save it as a fully notated PDF and print either from the app or a different program.
Holding the device in your hands, as shown in the app instructions gives you a trace in lead I, and it’s possible to obtain leads II and III by placing the two electrodes in different areas of the body (I have provided these instructions at the bottom of the page). Handily, AliveCor doesn’t just measure biopotentials in the peripherals, but also in the chest. A Lewis lead configuration is possible to view atrial activity with more clarity.
I experienced a minor issue with artefact at the start of recording, but this was almost definitely user error, as AliveCor ‘steadies’ itself pretty quickly if you remain relaxed and support you arms. This learning curve is honestly the only problem I had with the product, and after 10 or so minutes, it wasn’t a problem at all. I don’t want to speak for everyone, but I feel it’s fairly easy to get to grips with, so I doubt that your average patient would have too much trouble with it after a short while.
Traces themselves look very clean and, thanks to the standard calibration and the inclusion of a regular ECG paper grid, various amplitudes, intervals and waveforms can be measured manually. The trace screen also gives the option to invert the recording, and filter enhancement is selectable for each one.
As an event monitor, this device is invaluable. It comes with its own built-in symptom sheet and it’s incredibly quick and easy to record a good quality trace. AliveCor has been given the thumbs up from the FDA and NICE, so it’ll be interesting to see how the SCST view the monitor; I’ve reached out to them, but haven’t heard anything yet. If I do, I shall update accordingly.
I assume that in the U.S. this app allows patients to forgo some of the high cost of continued medical care by way of allowing the trace to be sent directly to a clinician for review. The UK version gives the option to send the trace to a Cardiac Physiologist for £5 and provides the analysis results within 24 hours, allowing the patient to present an official ECG report to their GP, should they need to.
As an added bonus, the AliveCor app has an educational area that features breakdowns of common arrhythmias and cardiac anatomy. The illustrations are aesthetically very pleasing and straightforward. The information contained within it is not as comprehensive as the information you’ll find in your lectures or textbooks, but it isn’t designed for the use of practitioners, so what is there is entirely sufficient.
All in all, AliveCor truly is a technical feat and not only does exactly what it sets out to do, but gives a glimpse of the future of ECG technology. This is an extremely good way for patients to become actively involved in their own heart health, with a relatively small price tag. The app provides a simple, intuitive UI and doesn’t require any Bluetooth connectivity between monitor and phone: it works right out of the box so that any patient can use it with ease. There’s a reason this product has garnered praise around the globe.
I will add that the device’s creator, Dr David Albert, is one of the nicest individuals with whom I have ever had the pleasure of conversing. His instructions for getting the most out of AliveCor for the purposes of this review have been invaluable, and even though he really didn’t have to, he answered every question I asked him, swiftly too. I’d like to thank David for being kind enough to help me get to grips with the product all the way from his residence in Oklahoma. Students need input such as this; it cements that we are valued and encourages learning outside of regular studies.
Lead I: LH – RH
Lead II: LL (knee) – RH
Lead III: LL – LH
Lewis: Electrode 1 on V1, device angled vertically