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KRT MUG SLUGGED: GLICKEN KRT PHOTOGRAPH VIA LONG BEACH PRESS-TELEGRAM (KRT310-Feb. 9) Long Beach Press-Telegram columnist Harold Glicken (jdl41730) 1995

KRT MUG SLUGGED: GLICKEN KRT PHOTOGRAPH VIA LONG BEACH PRESS-TELEGRAM (KRT310-Feb. 9) Long Beach Press-Telegram columnist Harold Glicken (jdl41730) 1995 (COLOR)

My family thinks I'm a bit of a hypochondriac, but at my age I want to head off potential problems before they turn into ones that require expensive medical attention.

I have a portable blood-pressure set. To check my blood sugar level, I have a set of lancets and test strips. A drop of blood makes the doctor go away.

Twice a year I have comprehensive blood tests at my HMO's laboratory. I get my teeth cleaned three times a year.

And I exercise: a 40-minutes brisk walk early in the morning and two 35-minute sessions on my recumbent bike. It's no wonder that I can still fog a mirror.

And so, when I heard about a device about the size of a stick of gum that took EKGs, I had to have it.

The AliveCor Kardia Mobile communicates with a smartphone or tablet through the microphone. Like an EKG at the doctor's office, the Kardia Mobile traces heart rhythm - and it displays results after a 30-second session. Two fingers are placed on each of the two sensors, and the device, which weighs less than two ounces, sorts it all out. If your heart rhythm is normal, you'll get that message on your smartphone. Heart rhythm problems are displayed, too, along with background information. People with atrial fibrillation will know if they need to see their cardiologist and whether the medication they're taking is working.

The first EKG is sent to a cardiologist, and within 24 hours the results are sent via email to your inbox. After that, you can email the results to your cardiologist or to yourself for framing purposes, as in "here's how a septuagenarian's EKG should look."

There's a premium plan in which EKGs can be stored, among other features. The premium plan is necessary for using with the optional Apple Watch EKG. The first month is free, and then it costs $10 a month. I chose the basic plan, which tells me how my heart is doing, along with how fast my heart beats when I find a new gadget.

There are downsides to the Kardia Mobile. The device can't be used near a computer or other electronic device. Sometimes it takes several minutes for it to connect to my iPhone. And way-too-often, it will give me messages that a proper reading can't be made. About two out of five attempts work as advertised. For some, that may be a non-starter.

But when it works, it's a joy to see, especially if you're concerned about your heart health. It won't take the place of the EKG you get in your doctor's office, but at best, it will give you a heads-up that something is wrong heart-rhythm-wise.

The device costs $99 from either Amazon.com or alivcor.com. A band for an Apple Watch, with the sensor built into the band, costs $199.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Harold Glicken is a retired newspaper editor. He can be reached at harold.glicken@helpware-online.com and a collection of his columns can be found at www.helpware-online.com.

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