Tuesday, October 3, 2023


RV Electricity – Can a pocket 6-lead ECG provide real medical data

Medical Devices

By Mike Sokol

A 6-lead ECG pocket tester from AliveCor is not much bigger than a pack of gum.

Just add a smartphone to begin testing your own heart for problems, no matter where you happen to be camping or sheltering in place. This can save your life!

Okay, you all know how much I love my tools and test gear. In fact, some would say I love them just a little too much. But last week my 91-year-old father, who had a mild heart attack six months ago and was having trouble regulating his blood pressure with medication, refused to go to his cardiologist’s office for an ECG for fear of contracting COVID-19.

I had been getting ads from Apple about how their smart watch could take a 1-lead ECG, but $800 seemed like a lot of money for something that seemed like a gimmick. However, a little research turned up a much cheaper alternative.

For less than $150 (plus using your own smartphone) you can buy a KardiaMobile 6-lead ECG tester from AliveCor that only requires you place two fingers on the top conductive pads, and rest the bottom conductive pad on your left leg. Then it quickly generates an FDA-approved ECG just like you would get in the emergency room using 6 leads on your chest. You can then store your daily test data on your own phone as well as on their cloud, where it can generate a report of your heart health on a monthly basis, even warning you when you should contact your doctor for more diagnostics.

I contacted AliveCor yesterday to ask if they would send me a KardiaMobile 6L to try out and write about for my RV readers here and on RVtravel.com, and they quickly responded by agreeing to mail me a demo unit in a day or so. That means in a few weeks I can report on this potentially lifesaving technology that puts the ability to monitor your heart with an ECG literally in the palm of your hand. In addition, I get to have phone call with one of the engineers who developed the 6L and will be granted access to a number of leading cardiologists around the country who have used it on their own patients and compared it to an in-office 6-lead ECG.

So stay tuned for a review of how this works from me very soon (it’s now been put on the top of my pile of things to write about). In the meantime, here’s a link to their website with all the appropriate medical information on the operation of the KardiaMobile 6L. And here’s a link to this product on Amazon.com.

Let’s stay heart safe out there…



Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.



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George Hatfield
3 years ago

I have owned the single lead Kardia Mobile unit for about 5 years. I have probably used it once or so per month to check for atrial fibrillation (age 78). A few weeks ago I got the first reading that was not normal. As it turned out, I did not have AFib but some other cardiac rhythm problem which self resolved after a couple of weeks. The Kardia Mobile unit worked very well and I recommend it. It was very useful in discussing the problem with my physician and I was able to avoid an office visit.

Some additional comments:
1. If one has any kind of hand tremor (common in the elderly) this can make it difficult to get a useable EKG. Wetting the fingers touching the sensor and taking the EKG on a surface that supports the forearms helps.
2. The new 6L model is more expensive and does not offer much of an advantage IMHO. The single lead Kardia mobile model should show if there is a problem and the physician caring for the patient will probably want a 12 lead EKG to make a diagnosis and that would need be taken in the MD’s office.
3. The 6L EKG is more difficult to take since one has to hold the bottom of the sensor on the leg. Thus the arms are not supported and hand tremors and coordination can be more of an issue. I know… I ordered one and tried it. Return it.
4. It is important to note that the Kardia software that reviews the EKG can only make five determinations: bradycardia (too slow a heart rate), tachycardia (too fast), possible AFib, unclassified (abnormal) and normal.
5. The company does offer the services of a cardiologist to evaluate your EKG. I found the report, which costs $19, to be worthless since no additional information was provided. The report I got just reported what I had seen without a single additional word of evaluation from the “cardiologist.” I asked for and received a refund.
6. AliveCor, the company that makes KardiaMobile and Kardia6L, provides very prompt answers to questions via email. They seem to be a good company.

Chris Crosswhite
3 years ago

Thanks, George – good points. I particularly note the comment about hand/arm tremors (which I have at age 71.) They make the reading a bit ‘noisy’, but the process is easy enough to repeat until you get a good one. Or you can just use it in the 2-lead mode (I agree with your comment on that.)

The KardiaMobile 6L works with a particular set of smartphones. It didn’t work with any of mine, but it was easy enough to go to the list of compatible smartphones in one window and eBay in another. I settled on a $40 Samsung S5 which works fine.

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