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EPI Life, First-ever ECG Mobile Phone is an Innovative Idea - But Is It Worthy of all the Hype?

How effective is the EPI Life ECG smartphone for monitoring heart arrhythmias and more serious cardiovascular events?

This article originally appeared online at iMedicalApps.com, part of the HCPLive Network.

EPI Life, the first ever ECG cell phone is bringing a huge amount of hype. The phone has been featured on CNET and Engadget with both outlets hyping its life saving potential — but the exact method of how the integrated ECG unit in the mobile phone works is not clear. Chow U-Jin, medical director at Ephone International, which developed the EPI Life, has said the device records readings by having the user touch their fingers on the side of the phone.

A trip over to the EPI Life website http://www.epi.com.sg/product.html doesn’t yield many clues, except they do say it has an integrated “multi-lead ECG”. From the output shown in the pictures though and the limited data available — it appears to be useful for heart arrhythmias at best, where changes in the sequence of the ECG tracing may be enough to make the diagnosis.

Heart attacks and other more subtle cardiovascular pathologies require a more detailed scan, usually obtained with “12 lead ECG” where a dozen leads are arrayed in a specific pattern across the chest. When performed properly, the portion of the heart that is affected can even be determined (for example, a lateral heart attack would be reflected on the V5-V6, 1 & aVL leads). Some types of heart attacks are not even reflected on the ECG and only discovered later by blood tests showing abnormally elevated cardiac enzymes.

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