Review: AliveCor KardiaMobile Card – a medical-grade ECG device that fits in your wallet
KardiaMobile Card is the most recent addition to AliveCor’s product range. The size and shape of a credit card, this is the slimmest electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) device in existance. I’ve been using it for the past couple of weeks. What follows is my review.
The California-based company has been around since 2011. In that time it has become one of the best known names in the personal ECG technology space.
An ECG is used to evaluate your heart health. Taking a reading occasionally is important, especially as you get older. The test records the heart’s rhythm and electrical activity and can be a useful way of identifying as well as ruling out heart abnormalities.
The company’s claim to fame is that it is credited as the first to produce an over-the-counter device capable of detecting atrial fibrillation (AFib). It is also the first to receive FDA-clearance for a medical-device accessory to the Apple Watch.
Some recent additions to its product lineup include KardiaMobile and KardiaMobile 6L. The first is a single-lead ECG device, the second a more accurate 6‑lead device. The more leads the better as the additional info that can be generated provides a more complete view of your heart activity.
Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets
Some had thought AliveCor would face struggles following the launch of the ECG-enabled Apple Watch, but that did not turn out to be the case. It seems the press coverage around the Apple device has raised awareness of the importance of checking occasionally your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity.
- The slimmest ECG device out there
- How to take a reading
- The app, viewing and sharing your results
- The bottom line
KardiaMobile Card review: the slimmest ECG device out there
KardiaMobile Card is unlike anything the company has dished out so far. In fact it is different from anything out there.
The wearable impresses on several counts. One of these is the low-key design. Put a credit card next to KardiaMobile Card and you’ll notice they have exactly the same dimensions and thickness.
The look and feel is also identical. Which means you can slip KardiaMobile Card into your wallet, pocket or bag and it will quietly sit there until you take it out to capture a reading. You might even forget that it’s there until you need it. The exact dimensions of the device are 85.6 mm x 54.0 mm x 1.2 mm while the weight comes in at a mere 7.4 grams.
AliveCor says the card is built to resist weather, water, and wear and tear. And it certainly feels that way. They’ve even done a “sit test” so you can keep the card in your pocket without worry.
The card itself is a rather simple affair. On the face are two square metalic areas (two 25 mm x 15 mm electrodes) where you rest your thumbs to take a measurement. Above them on the right hand side is a physical button which seamlessly blends into the design.
Press this and a small LED next to it will light up. This shows you the device is up and running. To preserve battery life, the card will switch itself off after a few seconds of no use.
The company has managed to squeeze a battery inside which should be good for a couple of years. There’s no way to change the battery and no option to recharge it. Instead, if the battery goes out, contact AliveCor and they’ll fling a replacement device your way, as long as your subscription to KardiaCare is still active. It is a refreshing change not to have a wearable device that needs occasional charging. One less cable to keep track of.
This is a medical-grade single-lead ECG monitor
KardiaMobile Card is a medical-grade single-lead device. The tech has received the stamp of approval from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) which means you can have confidence in its readings. In fact, this is the first-ever credit card-sized ECG device that has been cleared by the FDA.
As far as actual ability, KardiaMobile Card can detect six of the most common heart arrhythmias. This is something no other personal ECG on the market can beat. The ECG characteristics specs read that the card has 10 mV peak-to-peak input dynamic range, with 300 samples per second sampling rate and 14 bit resolution.
It takes just 30 seconds to complete a reading at which point the data will be synced via Bluetooth to the smartphone app. AliveCor says that the algorithm that powers KardiaMobile is the same that can be found in its other devices. It has been evaluated by more than 170 peer-reviewed studies.
KardiaMobile Card review: How to take a reading
As with most other wearables, you will need to install the accompanying smartphone app in order to use the device and view your results. The iOS or Android Kardia app is the same one that is used for the company’s other devices. When first opening, it will ask you to set up your account by answering a few basic questions. You will then be taken through the initial pairing process.
All of this is seemless and quick and I experienced no issues whatsoever. The same goes for pairing – whenever you open the app and switch on the card, the two have no problems communicating. The pairing is instant.
To take a measurement fire up the app and tap on “Record Your ECG”. The next screen will ask you to turn on your KardiaMobile Card device. Rest your thumbs against the two electrodes and the recording will begin once good contact is confirmed.
You’ll then notice a 30 second count-down timer during which a graph will show your real-time ECG along with your heart rate. That’s all there is to it – quick and easy. The card will power itself off as soon as the reading is captured and the results are synced.
In the settings you can tweak the recording duration. The default is 30 seconds but you can increase that to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 40 minutes.
KardiaMobile Card review: The app, viewing and sharing your results
The card itself does not have a display. Instead all the info can be found in the smartphone app.
In the first instance this includes an assesment of your ECG. If everything is as it should be – you’ll get the message “Normal Sinus Rhythm”. This means no heart rate abnormalities were detected and your hear rate was between 50 and 100 beats per minute. You can add notes to the measurement, download PDF showing the graph of the measurement in detail, notify inner circle or ask for a clinician review.
The inner circle page allows you to cutomize “Caregivers”. Simply add their name and email address and then you can share your measurements with them at the click of a button.
The Clinicial review option is something unique – it is one of the things that makes AliveCor devices stand our from “standard” ECG-enabled smartwatches. By choosing this option your ECG measurement will be sent to and reviewed by a US Board-Certified Cardiologist.
The resulting feedback will contain a clinical analysis of the reading and doctor recommendation. The response time is up to 24 hours. All KardiaCare members receive 4 free clinician reviews and this comes as part of the package when you purchase CardiaMobile Card. If you find you’ve used this up and require additional reviews, each one costs $25.
Along with the reading, you also have the option to add your blood pressure. No, KardiaMobile will not measure your blood pressure but you can take it yourself with a blood pressure monitor and enter it manually. Or pair an Omron monitor to the Kardia app and the measurement will be added automatically. There’s also an option for adding your weight.
Beyond that, the smartphone app allows you to view a complete history of your ECG readings. Each record retains the original detailed data. Below that is a nice little summery which in plain English explains each individual result.
There’s also a tab along the bottom for something AliveCor calls “Care Plan”. In essence, these are alerts that you can set to remind you to take ECG recordings, blood pressure readings, for medication tracking, symptom reporting and more. Enable this and you’ll get something akin to a daily health reminder checklist.
In the Health History, you’ll also find an option to generate a report. Specify the date range (up to 31 days) and whether you want the report content to include ECG, blood pressure and weight – and you’ll receive a summary in PDF format for that period that you can review in detail and share with others.
It connects with Apple Health
Those with an iPhone or Apple Watch will be happy to know the app connects to Apple Health. This allows it to sync Apple Health metrics such as ECGs, blood pressure, weight and more with the Kardia app. You can even send your Apple Watch ECGs to board-certified cardiologists for review. Although I suggest using the KardiaMobile Card for that because it will be more accurate.
I really like the app. It works seamlessly and doesn’t overload you with advanced health jargon or unnecessary stats. The option to quickly and easily share your results and get an assesment are very useful. Particularly for those suffering from heart conditions.
Two types of memberships
KardiaMobile Card has two types of memberships. The first is called Basic and that one is free. In this mode you will be assessed for three types of heart abnormalities: Atrial Fibrillation, Bradycardio and Tachycardia.
Those after deeper analysis of their heart rhythm will appreciate the KardiaCare membership. As mentioned, when you purchase the Card you will get one year free access by default. If you still require it once the year is up, the monthly fee runs at $9.99, or you can opt for a one-off $99.99 annual fee.
There are several differences between the Basic and KardiaCare membership you should be aware of. They are all listed in the table below.
The KardiaCare membership allows you access to a total of six types of heart arrhytmias – all of these can appear both in healthy adults and those with heart conditions. In addition to the three listed above, this includes: Sinus Rhythm with Supraventricular Ectopy (SVE), Sinus Rhythm with Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs) and Sinus Rhythm with Wide QRS. You can learn more about the advanced determinations on AliveCor’s blog.
An FDA requirement of the additional determinations are a review of your EKG by a certified cardiologist. This will be done free of charge the first time you take a measurement. Once this is out of the way, you’ll get access to the full list of determinations. The membership gives you four credits (worth $100). You can use them for four on-demand professional assesments of your ECG reading.
KardiaMobile Card review: The bottom line
It is clear from this review that I was impressed with KardiaMobile Card. The device has a few unique things that work in its favour. First is the credit-card like design which allows you to carry it around anywhere. There’s no charging and the card should work for a couple of years with the internal battery intact.
Additionally, this is a medical-grade single-lead ECG device that has been approved by the FDA – meaning you can have confidence in its measurements. It can spot six of the most common heart arrhytmias.
I really like the whole concept and enjoyed the ease of taking readings and the simple to use smartphone app. With the ability to share your results and even send them to professional clinicians for review – the device presents itself as a complete solution for those suffering from heart issues or those who simply want to keep a closer eye on their heart health.
KardiaMobile Card costs $149.00 on AliveCor’s website. As mentioned, the purchase comes with one year access to KardiaCare, which normally runs at $99. This includes four professional assesments of your ECG readings. The company also offers a range of other products including KardiaMobile and KardiaMobile 6L.
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** For the purposes of an honest, unbiased review we have received KardiaMobile Card free from AliveCor. We are independently owned and all opinions expressed here are our own.
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2 thoughts on “Review: AliveCor KardiaMobile Card – a medical-grade ECG device that fits in your wallet”
Solid non-biased review. Do you know what their return policy is if you don’t like it?
No idea – best to speak to them directly.