Emergency physicians are often perceived (and view themselves) as MacGyveresque medical cowboys who at a moment's notice are able to perform a cricothyroidotomy in a restaurant using just a straw and a butter knife. If this sounds like you, you will want AliveCor's heart monitor.
The AliveCor monitor is a portable single-lead ECG monitor that can be attached to your smartphone for rate, rhythm, and morphology analysis. The monitor is a relatively thin, very lightweight device, approximately the size of two poker chips side-by-side, and it can be attached to the back of your smartphone or tablet by way of a special phone case or a universal attachment plate.
Simply open the AliveCor app on your smartphone, hand your phone to the patient (or the party guest you are trying to impress), and have him hold his fingertips on the left and right sides of the device. Within seconds the monitor will start transmitting the ECG information ultrasonically to the smartphone's microphone (you can't hear this frequency, of course, but the smartphone can), and it will show up on the smartphone's screen as a continuously running ECG lead, most closely approximately lead 1. It will attempt to gather 30 seconds of data, and then provide multiple options for sharing the ECG rhythm, including emailing a pdf or paying a cardiologist for an interpretation.
The device is FDA-approved, does not require a prescription for purchase, and can be purchased by medical professionals and laypeople alike for $199. The first time you use the device, it will send the rhythm for analysis before letting you take additional recordings; this feature was a requirement for AliveCor's FDA approval.
I tested the iPhone 5/5s version of the device, in which the monitor is embedded in the phone case, and was able to pop the device out of the case easily and use it with my Android Nexus 5 phone and iPad. The device works perfectly as long as you hold very still when recording.
This is a cool device to have in your armamentarium the next time you come across a medical emergency in the wild and are asked to put your MacGyver skills to use.
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