The skeptical cardiologist received an email from the folks at AliveCor a few days ago with the subject line:
Dad’s heart matters – Kardia Mobile for Dad will give you peace of mind and make Dad happy
The email contains this image of an older well-dressed man (with lots of bling) standing in a beautiful meadow near the ocean. The man has decided to turn his back on the ocean and check his heart rhythm using the AliveCor/Kardia (AliveCor has changed the name of its ECG devices to Kardia) mobile ECG. This man is a happy dad! (Unless his heart rhythm is interpreted as atrial fibrillation. Then the beach walk is ruined.)
The email asks the question “What if Dad’s heart really was an open book?”
Uhh, he’d be dead? Clearly books don’t function well at pumping 5 or 6 liters of blood through the cardiovascular system every minute whether they are open or closed. Perhaps the question is using either the heart or an open book as a metaphor?
The advertisement goes on to suggest that I get my dad an AliveCor device for father’s day “So you always know what his heart is thinking.”
I believe this is the marketing person’s attempt to extend the metaphor of the open book, i.e., you know exactly what dad’s brain is thinking, now you can extend this knowledge to his heart. The metaphor of the heart “thinking” is quite poor but poor metaphors are the norm today.
Bad metaphors and bad writing abound on father’s day because 90 million greeting cards are purchased and given as (according to the Greeting Card Association) “a meaningful expression of personal affection for another person.” Despite the increasing use of Facebook and its ilk to transmit emotions, the Greeting Card Association assures us that “The tradition of giving greeting cards … is still being deeply ingrained in today’s youth, and this tradition will likely continue as they become adults and become responsible for managing their own important relationships.
Mobile Ecg Monitor As A Father’s Day Gift
I have to say that despite the horror of the writing in this email advertisement it got me thinking about getting my father a Kardia device. I’ve suggested previously that an AliveCor device would make a good gift for Christmas for a loved one who has intermittent unexplained palpitations or atrial fibrillation but had not considered this for my dad.
For one thing he does not possess a smart phone which is required to make the Kardia device functional. For another, he doesn’t have atrial fibrillation (that we know of. Perhaps if I knew what his heart was thinking we would find out that it likes to fibrillate late at night,)
Perhaps it’s time to upgrade my Dad to an iPhone I began thinking.
But wait! He has an iPad mini (that he seems to only use for FaceTime conversations.)
Taking Care of Dad’s Heart
What about the rest of the slick advertising copy in my email?
And now you can know the way to help take care of it. Kardia gives Dad a medical-grade EKG in only 30 seconds. It even gives him expert analysis and tracking, with reports getting shared directly with his physician
This part is pretty clear and correct. I use Kardia daily in my office to record patient’s heart rhythm and I have a dozen patients now who make recordings outside of the office. They can have their recordings read by a random cardiologist for a fee or establish a link with me as their provider and I can review them through my account for free.
Is It The First Father’s Day Gift That Leads To More Father’s Days?
The ad ends with the remarkably brazen statement that “It’s the first Father’s Day gift that leads to more Father’s Days.”
While I find the device more helpful in many instances than current expensive and intrusive long term monitoring devices for detecting and monitoring atrial fibrillation and other abnormal heart rhythms, it is a huge leap to suggest that this translates somehow into a longer life span.
To AliveCor’s credit, despite such ridiculous marketing drivel , studies presented at the recent Heart Rhythm Society Scientific Meetings suggest:
Kardia Mobile Superior to Conventional Monitoring: Researchers at the Leeds General Infirmary found that the AliveCor monitor is superior to conventional Holter monitoring in patients with palpitations, providing a higher diagnostic yield, more detected arrhythmias, with a similar workload.
Kardia Mobile Leads to Improved Patient Compliance:Researchers at the University of Buffalo found that AliveCor provides a diagnostic yield comparable to a 30-day ambulatory looping event monitor and that the smartphone-based ECG monitor can be used as a first approach for the diagnosis of palpitations.
Kardia Mobile provided more information resulting in changes in arrhythmia patient management than traditional external event recorders in a study from researchers at the University of Miami.
AliveCor’s AF algorithm was reported to be superior by researchers at Arizona State University to the patient’s own ability to detect AF via symptoms.
But even if these studies make it to publication they don’t suggest the device provides any improved longevity. In fact, such data, do not exist for any monitoring device.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Don’t be surprised when we FaceTime later today that I’ve found another use for your iPad.
N.B. Clearly I receive no consulting, speaking or P.R. writing fees of any kind from AliveCor. Nor do they provide me with any free devices. What’s more, when I lose one of their devices they don’t replace it. I am totally free of any conflict of interest.