MedGadget points us to a service called EKGuard:

When a customer signs up for EKGuard, the company sends a handheld EKG monitor. They also take a customer’s medical history, contact his or her doctor and cardiologist, and explain how they should take a baseline EKG, for reference by cardiac specialists.

The portable monitor has three wires; placed in the right spots on the body, they record data from 12 different leads, like a standard hospital or ambulance EKG. When collected, the data build a picture of how efficiently electrical impulses are traveling through the heart. To transmit the EKG readings to the call center, the device translates the information into sound and plays it over a phone line to a computerized receiving station, where it is reconfigured into an EKG chart that can be analyzed for irregularities…

I wonder if they realize that a single, initial EKG is not the most accurate for myocardial ischemia:

The initial ECG is often not diagnostic in patients with ACS. In two series, for example, the initial ECG was not diagnostic in 45 percent and was normal in 20 percent of patients subsequently shown to have an acute MI. (via UptoDate)

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  • Anonymous

    “the initial ECG was not diagnostic in 45 percent and was normal in 20 percent of patients subsequently shown to have an acute MI”

    Isn’t this just for a baseline reading?
    And won’t it catch a bunch of abnormally beating hearts that would otherwise not be detected until much later?

    Out of curiousity, what is going on when the EKG is read as normal – is it that signs are missed because the irregularities aren’t read properly? or changes are so subtle they are hard to read, or there are no changes at all?

  • Anonymous

    To Anon 1:46
    You read it right, the EKG can be normal,(no findings of myocardial infarction or heart attack) even when one is having a heart attack. It is not the machine or the machine’s computer or the technician or the doctor or his level of expertise. That’s just the nature of this test.

  • Anonymous

    If EKG’s can read normal when one is having a heart attack, and, it not be anything or anyone’s fault, then why do we even have such a test called an EKG? I know from experience that what you say is absolutely true.

    This test gives false comfort and guides medical specialists to make extremely wrong assumptions. The errors of this test caused my father to pass away entirely to young. His EKG and coronary enzymes were all normal in the ER, but, a few hrs later he suffered a horrible heart attack and passed away from coronary rupture two days later.The bottom half of his R ventricle was destroyed during his heart attack.

    How do you make the call when someone has chest pains to just trust in EKG’s or going straight for a cath?

  • Anonymous

    To Anon 5:46 I’m sorry about what happened to your father.
    The EKG is one of the tools we use to diagnose the likelihood of a heart attack. The history,(knowing the risk factors, the character, location, duration of the pain),
    physical exam and blood tests(heart enzyme test-Troponin and CKMB)are important as well in arriving at the diagnosis. Even if all the tests are normal, most of the time one is admitted and observed in the hospital and a stress test of the heart is done the following day to see if there is a possibility of blockage to an artery. The diagnosis may require admission, doing serial tests and sometimes a stress test. Sometimes, the EKG shows that there is an acute heart attack and depending on the availability, the doctors may just decide to take the patient to a cath lab at that very moment. In some hospitals, they give thrombolytics or clot busters(within 6 hours of the onset of the pain) and then do the angiogram or stenting of the arteries the following day. If on angiogram there are 3 arteries with significant blockage a CABG or bypass is usually done by the heart surgeon.

  • Greg P

    At a time when people complain about the high cost of medical care, what we have here is a company feeding off people’s anxiety with this “service” — I’m sure they don’t do this for free, and the cost probably comes out of people’s pockets.
    In the end something like this would be unlikely to have a major impact.
    If a patient’s cardiologist were to invent some racket like this, he would be called a money-grubber.

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