My Favorite Heart Health Gadget

AliveCorWhen I started heartgeek, I promised I would provide information and reviews of technology related to heart health.  In doing so, I found a way to justify my uncontrollable appetite for new phones, watches, fitness trackers, and miscellaneous gadgets.  The first piece of tech up for review is the AliveCor Heart Health Monitor.

What is This Thing?

The AliveCor heart monitor is a serious little piece of equipment that allows you to monitor your heart health in realtime by  providing a personal electrocardiogram (ECG) on your phone.  AliveCor sells the unit integrated into cases ( iPhone 5 or Samsung S4 only) or as a universal attachment plate that can be stuck on the back of any phone.  The universal attachment is a good thing for someone like me that changes phones every 6 months.

Why Use It?

I use it to satisfy my inner geek of course.  But  I also use it to monitor my heart health, particularly my arrhythmia or a-fib episodes.  I can fire up the app on my phone, put my fingertips on the device, and within 30 seconds have an ECG readout.  I am not a doctor, but I can pretty quickly identify a normal or abnormal reading.  So what if there is an abnormal reading?  We will get to that further down.

Is it Hard to Setup?

The setup is very simple.  I attached the AliveCor pod to the back of my phone in about 10 seconds.  It can also be attached to the back of a 3rd party case.  The pod is held securely by what I imagine is some type of 3M adhesive.  Be forewarned, it takes a bit of work to pry the pod off when you change phones.

Next, I downloaded the AliveCor app (free) from the Google Play Store.  Once the app was downloaded, I had to enter a bit of personal information.  AliveCor assures users that all of their personal data is kept safe in two places.  First, in the AliveCor app itself and second, on the AliveCor servers.

AliveCor states that their servers are secure and HIPAA and EU Data privacy compliant.  Fine by me.  If you have looked around this site, you know that I am not too concerned with privacy.

Is it Hard to Use?

Using the device is almost as easy as setup.   Fire up the app, put your fingers on the device, and your live ECG appears on the screen almost instantly.  After 30 seconds, the readout is final and is then stored on your phone and the AliveCor servers.

Now here is the really cool part.  You can print a PDF of the reading or send it directly to your doctor or anyone else who may be interested.  For a small fee, you can send your reading (via the app) for further analysis by a U.S. board certified cardiologist or cardiac technician.

The image below shows a reading I took earlier this year.  As you can see, the heart rate is very low.

Sinus Bradycardia 54

As I mentioned, I am not a doctor, but that reading didn’t seem good.  I decided to use the AliveCor ECG analysis service to get some more insight.  The two levels of reporting and pricing are shown below.  I believe I chose the $12.00 report for this reading.  Although turnaround time is quoted at 24 hours, the report came back in about 10 minutes.

Here a sample of the report I received back.  Honestly, not that informative.

Bradycardia Report

In their defense, AliveCor does have a Education feature in the app.  As shown below you can lookup just about any cardiac term your heart desires.

AliveCor Education

Should You Buy This Device?

If you have arrythmia, I highly recommend purchasing this device.  Although not cheap ($199), the AliveCor device is FDA approved and very good at what it does.  It is simple to use and can provide peace-of-mind anytime, anywhere.  If nothing else, it is a great way to entertain family and friends by letting them see where they measure up against a heart patient.


  1. Paul,
    Thanks for all the Info. It is very useful.. Great job.
    I wish you all the best.


  2. Hi Paul!
    Where do you buy these things??

  3. Thank you Paul! This would have been a great 50th birthday gift for my brother!

  4. PAUL's DOC says:

    I have not used the Alivecor but a colleague of mine does carry it with him and recently had an opportunity to use it outside of the office. While in an airport someone collapsed near him and he and another MD started to evaluate the person. When the EMTs arrived he told them the person was in rapid atrial fibrillation. When asked how he knew that, he showed them the rhythm strip from Alivecor which really impressed them. It is a lot of money but if you have recurrent palpitations or rhythm problems this could be helpful.

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