AliveCor is the company behind developing two portable -should we way pocketable?- electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) devices.
The Mountain View based company was founded in 2010 by David Alberts, a cardiologist educated at Duke University with a clear interest in technology transfer. AliveCor is his third company.
In just ten years, the company has developed two unique devices, the Kardia Mobile and Kardia Mobile 6L, that may well be on a path to revolutionize how atrial fibrillation and other types of cardiac arrhythmia are diagnosed.
In this article, we will go through these two portable EKG devices and their benefits and limitations. For those not familiar with the devices, we recently published a review of the KardiaMobile 6L.
Why does detecting Atrial Fibrillation matter?
According to the Mayo clinic, atrial fibrillation is one of the most common causes of cardiac arrhythmia. Have you felt your heart racing in a seeming uncontrol way in your chest? Often referred to as palpitations, this could be a symptom of atrial fibrillation.
The heart rhythm is controlled by a complex nexus of nodes and nerves. In addition, diseases or trauma such as heart attacks can modify the heart’s anatomy and lead to abnormal heart rate.
Abnormal heart health is usually diagnosed using an ECG device to record a medical-grade EKG. A patient can also carry a Holter monitor for continuous recording over a couple of days. However, these accurate devices are not comfortable to wear as the patient will have to be wired and carry a recording box in his pocket.
Atrial fibrillation can lead to severe health consequences, including sudden cardiac heart arrest, strokes, or death. That is why establishing a diagnostic early is critical. Blood thinners are often prescribed to avoid the formation of blood clots as well as heart rhythm medications.
How is Kardia Mobile changing at-home EKG?
The Kardia device allows recording medically relevant electrocardiograms anytime and from anywhere. When coupled to the Kardia app, available for iOS or Android, it provides an easy way to record an ECG and, most importantly, interpret it.
When considering that Atrial Fibrillation or Atrial Flutter can often be asymptomatic, being able to benefit from an FDA-cleared ECG at home is an effective way to detect cardiovascular disease.
Kardia Mobile vs Kardia Mobile 6L
Both devices can accurately detect normal sinus rhythm, atrial fibrillation, and bradycardia. We routinely use the Kardia Mobile 6L, which, in our opinion, offers more than the benefits of a six leads EKG recording. Two leads are enough for detecting arrhythmia.
The KM 6L pair easily with the Kardia companion app. and transfer the data live to your smartphone for online analysis. However, according to the comparative analyses of the single vs. six leads devices provided by the Skeptical Cardiologist, the single lead device is more prone to interferences.
We did not experience any significant issues with the 6L device and, on the opposite, were very impressed by the quality of the signal. Having recorded thousands of cells using intracellular electrophysiology techniques, you can trust us on that.
The six lead device is $50 more expensive than the single lead one but considering that more data is better, it potentially offers more precise analyses.
Especially when combining the Kardia Care, the subscription-based membership allows for enhanced determination of other heart rhythm disorders, including:
- Sinus Rhythm with Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs)
- Sinus Rhythm with Supraventricular Ectopy (SVE)
- Sinus Rhythm with Wide QRS
The plan also offers Cardiologist EKG reviews (four annual reviews), heart health summary reports, medication tracking, and automatic EKG storage in the cloud.
To wrap up
The Kardia mobile single lead and the six leads devices are both excellent, accurate, and both provide valuable information in detecting arrhythmia.
The 6L is less sensitive to electrical interferences, and users do not have to turn off their hearing aid as reported with the single-lead device. Considering the quality of the signals and the additional information provided by recording additional leads, we certainly favor the 6L device.
The differences between the two devices are certainly not significant, but more is always better. And with six times more data, we hope that new algorithms will help offer even more detailed and accurate diagnostics.
AliveCor has recently gained traction and partnered with Omron to combine pressure measurements and EKG data in a single app. If we had only one regret, it would be that it is not possible to share the heart rhythm data with other apps and expand the analysis to other physiological values such as the Heart Rate Variability.