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Patient Review: AliveCor Heart Monitor for SmartPhones

AliveCor with logoBy Frances Koepnick, February 2015

Of late, there have been several new consumer heart rate monitors on the market of interest to A-Fib patients. One such product is the FDA-approved AliveCor. Attached to your cell phone and with the proper app, it can display your an EKG (ECG) signal. In this report, Frances Koepnick shares her experience with the AliveCore, and the pros and cons. Note: models shown may vary.

What is the Alivecor?

FDA-cleared for detection of atrial fibrillation (A-fib), the AliveCor Heart Monitor when combined with its AliveECG App provides a 30-second, one lead electrocardiogram (ECG) that is In addition to an ECG, this monitor also determines heart rate in beats per minute (BPM). This easy-to-use device attaches to iPhones (models 4 thru 6) by means of a phone case.  It is also available for some compatible smartphones and mobile devices other than Iphones.

Frances Koepnick photo 1: Phone 4S Case with First Generation AliveCor Heart Monitor

Frances Koepnick photo 1: Phone 4S Case with First Generation AliveCor Heart Monitor

Frances Koepnick photo 2:  iPhone 4S - AliveCor ECG Recording with Heart Rate in BPM

Frances Koepnick photo 2: iPhone 4S – AliveCor ECG Recording with Heart Rate in BPM

This technology is now in its third generation and is available for purchase without a prescription on AliveCor’s website at www.alivecor.com.  

The items required include an AliveCor Heart Monitor and the specific phone case which attaches the heart monitor to your smartphone. Prices vary according to the make and model of smartphone or mobile device.  A Third Generation AliveCor Heart Monitor with case for the iPhone 6 will be available for $84.99.

“In clinical studies, the AliveCor Heart Monitor has been shown to be accurate and efficacious.  The Heart Monitor is FDA-cleared and as such has shown equivalency to other ECG machines”.1 Two studies done in 2013 and published in peer reviewed journals document the accuracy of the AliveCor Heart Monitor.2,3  Furthermore, this technology has successfully detected undiagnosed A-fib when placed in pharmacies.4

How to Use the Alivecor

Setting up your Alivecor is not covered here. See your Alivecor instructions and/or visit the AliveCor website.

This device records ECGs and heart rate simply by placing the fingers of each hand on the electrodes located on the back of the smartphone case.  You can also rest the phone case electrodes on your chest.  Once the ECG/pulse rate is recorded and saved, you can add personal notes as well as select your symptoms and activities from a check list.

What You Can Do With Your Recording

You can print, obtain a PDF or email an ECG to your physician at no charge directly from your smartphone.  There is also an AliveCor function available whereby a physician can set up a “provider dashboard” to review their patients’ ECG recordings by means of a free web-based application.  All of the above functions “travel with you” via your smartphone.  Consequently, ECG data can be shared on an international basis.

Expert Review of a Specific Recording

If you want to obtain an expert review of a specific ECG recording, you can do so for a fee by simply tapping on the “ANALYSIS” icon.   There are two choices available from AliveCor depending on the credentials of the reviewer:

A clinical analysis and report by a U.S. Board Certified Cardiologist costs $12 and is “best suited for patients with limited technical ECG knowledge”.5 This analysis has a 24-hour turnaround time and contains a doctor recommended course of action.

A preliminary finding by a U.S.-based cardiac technician costs either $2 for a 24-hour turnaround or $5 for a 30-minute turnaround. This analysis contains preliminary technical findings by non-physicians with no recommendations for a course of action.

My Experience with AliveCor on my iPhone 4S

This technology is certainly easy to use and as convenient as the proximity of your cell phone.

I was diagnosed 11 months ago with asymptomatic, persistent A-fib by my cardiologist. I purchased an AliveCor Heart Monitor for my iphone 4S last November and have been using the AliveECG app to record my heart rate and ECGs for the past three months.  In fact, the photos taken for this article show the front of my smartphone with one of my ECG recordings as well as the back of my phone showing the electrodes for finger placement.  This technology is certainly easy to use and as convenient as the proximity of your cell phone.

However, the ECGs which I have recorded on my AliveCor Heart Monitor are usually not flagged as “possible A-fib”.  I sent one of my “unflagged” ECGs for review by an AliveCor cardiac technician and the result was reported as “Atrial Fibrillation Sustained”.  When I reported this discrepancy to AliveCor’s Customer Service, they agreed that the ECG which I had submitted should have been “flagged” as A-fib.  Their reply also indicated that “every (ECG) recording we get helps us improve our algorithms to better serve our customers”.

In spite of the discrepancy which I have experienced with the AliveECG algorithm, I do recommend the AliveCor Heart Monitor.

 In spite of the discrepancy which I have experienced with the AliveECG algorithm, I do recommend the AliveCor Heart Monitor for those individuals who want to monitor and document their paroxysmal A-fib attacks.  Also, the AliveCor Heart Monitor is an excellent resource for routinely determining heart rate in beats per minute.

About the AliveCor, App and Compatiable Cell Phones

Although the AliveCor Heart Monitor was originally developed for the iPhone, it is also available for other compatible devices.  Currently, this monitor is available for the iPhone 6/6 Plus, iPhone 5/5S/5c, iPhone 4/4S, iPod Touch 5G, iPad Air and iPad mini.  Other compatible devices include the Samsung Note 3, Galaxy S3/S4/S5, HTC One, and Jitterbug Touch 2/Touch 3.

The AliveECG App is free and this software can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or the Android App on Google Play. Before downloading the AliveECG App, be sure that your smartphone’s operating system has been updated to the minimum version required for use with this app. See the instructions with your AliveCor or visit AliveCor.com.

How to get started with the Alivecor monitor; go to http://www.alivecor.com/getstarted

Getting started with your AliveCor Monitor, Go to http://www.alivecor.com/getstarted

About the author: Frances Koepnick, M.A. is a retired medical microbiologist and current A-fib patient.  She previously taught microbiology, anatomy and physiology at the community college level.

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Return to Research and Innovations in Atrial Fibrillation

Last updated: Friday, March 6, 2015

 

References    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Is the AliveCor Heart Monitor accurate? http://www.alivecor.com/getstarted:
  2. J.K. Lau et al., iPhone ECG application for community screening to detect silent atrial fibrillation:  A novel Technology to prevent stroke, International Journal of Cardiology, Vol. 165:193-194, 2013.
  3. L.A. Saxon et al., Ubiquitous wireless ECG recording:  A powerful tool physicians should embrace, Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, Vol. 24:  480-483, 2013.
  4. Nicole Lowres et al.  Thrombosis and Haemostasis, Vol. 111, Issue 6:   1167-1176, 2014.
  5. http://www.alivecor.com/why-use-it: ECG analysis.

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