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Electrocardiography is the first line technology to evaluate heart rate and rhythm. Some ECG (or EKG) devices rely optical sensors or touch. More accurate ECG machines or devices measure electrical impulses via electrodes. If you go to a doctor or the emergency room, chances are you’ll be hooked-up with 12-leads attached to your skin with sticky patches in various locations. We’ve written about several single lead mobile or wearable ECG devices that measure heart rate such as BeWellConnect’s MYECG, Biotricity’s Bioflux System, and Kardio Products’ be AliveCor.

Russia-based Noravind has developed a 4-lead ECG device, the ECG Dongle. The dongle has a standard USB male plug on one end that connects to an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet via an adapter cable. The other end of the dongle has a port for the lead wiring. The wiring has a single plug on one end and breaks out to four wires with an electrode on the end of each. The reasoning behind the product is a one-lead device may be OK, but four leads are better, and more than that could be too confusing. Applying the four leads doesn’t require and special training. Just look at an included illustration and stick the leads on the upper chest and the lower sides of the abdomen. There’s no battery involved as the ECG Dongle gets power from the mobile device. The impulses from the leads are displayed in real-time on the mobile device, showing heart rate and stress level. If you can read the results yourself that’s all to the good.  You can also save the data in PDF format to give or send to someone trained to read electrocardiograms or send it  to a “Cardio Cloud.” If you send data to the cloud, Noravind has data cardiologists who send an opinion and possibly suggest a consultation with a specialist. The ECG Dongle is not FDA cleared and therefore is not available for sale in the U.S. at this time.

Noravind primarily sells the ECG Dongle in emerging markets in the Middle East, North Africa or South East Asia where the suggested price is about $61. In these areas, the device could be useful in the field as a first level diagnostic tool.