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Portable ECG monitors

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Heal Force Prince 180-B Easy Handheld Portable ECG Monitor With 3-Lead ECG Cable and Pack of ECG Electrodes and USB

Looks like newer device is 180D Heal Force Prince 180-B

Jim on October 2, 2016

Review from someone with medical training

My wife has had some recent chest fluttering and was seen at the hospital. They put her on a 48 hour Holter monitor and we ended up waiting almost 2 weeks for the results. In that 48 hours, she had frequent symptomatic PVC's and a 3 second run of v-tach. To say I was upset at how long it took for the results is an understatement. She continued to have episodes that may or may not have been repeated v-tach.

Enter this device. I was not suggested this device by anyone. I also spent almost 10 years as a paramedic. I was really wanting a way to see what her heart was doing without a trip to the emergency room while we awaited her appointment with a cardiologist.

My research on this showed that it was intended for patients with a-fib. The software shoes it. It will detect and flag any beats that occur sooner than expected (PAC). I was concerned about 1: Will it even display a PVC and 2: What will it call it? I took a shot and ordered (from another place that was cheaper, but the same manufacturer)

Device: The machine that we got displays just like the old Physio Lifepack 10's I started with on the ambulance. Single line straight across. You can hold it in your hands for a tracing of Lead 1 or put the leads on for what appears to be Lead 2. It is pretty sturdy and has held up well with my wife wearing it almost constantly for 4 days. We have gone through a bunch of batteries and have rechargeable ones coming.

Software: I much prefer looking at the record on the computer. I have a better view and can look at more than a few seconds at a time. I am able to scan through several hours of tracings in a few minutes and see what her heart has been up to all night long. The software only flags anything that was premature, so most PACs get flaged and some of the PVCs. Printing can be done so you can bring it to your doctor. I typically print as a pdf so I am not wasting paper.

Suggestions to improve. The device really would benefit from a memory card and a power cord that could be attached. I do not think those would add too much to the cost and would be a huge boost in the value. For the software, I would ask that a way to flag any QRS greater than 2mm with a count at the end of the recording. It should not be too hard, the software already takes some basic measurements of the complex, but it would be nice to see 37 PVCs in the record because those 37 beats were all greater than 2mm in width. Right now, I have to go through and count.

Mason A. Clark on October 1, 2016

My cardiologist thanks me for all the data that makes his job easy. (you can reach me from my web site) ...

This is a superb instrument, both hardware and software. I have had a PC-80B for a year. Apparently the same as Prince 180-B but does not have wireless, must use USB cable provided.

 I have AFib (atrial fibrillation) and have used my PC-80B very frequently to create a day-by-day record of my paroxysmal AFib. One caveat: for me it does not work between fingers. I press it against my rib.

The three-electrode system also works very well to get a record as long as ten hours. I have a web-page description of my experience at my  web site. My cardiologist thanks me for all the data that makes his job easy. (you can reach me from my web site) -- see screen example attached here.

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Comparison of handheld 1-lead ECG-EKG recorders

PC-80B Color (Cardio B Palm [Europe and UK])

(note added 7/30/2016: The Cardio B Palm is a version of PC-80B Color with a slightly different lead-wire/cable connector and available primarily in Europe and the UK, from various companies and in different languages, including user manual available online in different languages. For more information [and the manual] do a browser search for cardio b palm.)

Note (9/25/2016) -- This is one of my "Tester's Choice" devices.

UPDATES: last updated 1/23/2016
(note added 7/30/2016: The PC-80B Color device seems to be most recently marketed mainly under the company name of "Heal Force", e.g., click here , although note that the name situation has become even more muddled!!! ... with several different names and versions -- I will try to figure it out and describe the latest naming explanations later, stay tuned.)

This is the latest version of the PC-80, one of three different handheld ECG devices that I originally reviewed in 2006. At the time, I commented: "It would be nice if one could somehow combine the best of all three [different handheld devices] into a single unit, for example, something like a PC-80 with its size, lighted display, and rocker panel for selecting among menus, but with longer time before auto-shutoff and all of the better features and superior software of the IC." This latest version essentially accomplishes just that, plus having a large, well-lighted (so it works good in the dark) color display, options for different lengths of recording including continuous (and can even be used like a Holter monitor!), new and added features in the software, plus options for USB cable, Bluetooth wireless, or ZigBee for uploading records to the computer.

The PC-80 and its software have gone through many revisions, updates, and improvements, to the point that it is one of the state-of-the-art handheld ECG devices (IF you get the latest version and software [see note at end of the section] and know enough about ECGs to be able to use it).

The latest software is very functional and user friendly/intuitive (once you figure out the correct version to use!, see note at end). The software is sophisticated with many features, including an easy built-in caliper for measuring parts of waveforms. The device has both finger contacts and lead-wire cables.

The PC-80B Color and its software is stand-alone, user-managed, up to the user to communicate with the physician (or be a physician), and the user needs to be somewhat ECG savvy.

Photo of materials received with purchase: shipping package, plastic box with padding, User Manual, Quick Guide, Practical Use guide (not shown in photo), the device with a leather carrying case, software disk, lead-wire cables, and upload cable (for the USB option).

comparative-handheld-PC-80B-C-1.jpg (142954 bytes)

Photo of device startup menu, ready to begin recording with a push of the button.

comparative-handheld-PC-80B-C-2.jpg (130745 bytes)

Recording using the finger/hand contacts (recordings can also be made using the lead-wire cable and adhesive skin electrodes). Screen displays, incidentally, are brighter and better than they appear in these pictures. The display surfaces are reflective and had to be tipped for photos to avoid distracting reflections.

comparative-handheld-PC-80B-C-3.jpg (102809 bytes)

View of a stored ECG record on the device display (including a scale at the bottom indicating the segment being displayed). Display includes background grid markings.

comparative-handheld-PC-80B-C-4.jpg (118793 bytes)

View of section of a list of records (left panel), a recording (normal sinus rhythm, NSR, plus a few PVCs), and menus etc. on the computer screen while using the software. An onscreen caliper allows one to measure various parts of the waveform of a selected beat, as shown, by moving the red and black markers. By right-clicking the box of the selected beat, one can get a zoomed, pop-up box view of that beat, as shown. There are several options and views available (see examples of others below). The software has much utility, is very flexible, and is very intuitive and easy to use with features normally seen only in much more expensive PC-based 12-lead and Holter systems.

comparative-handheld-PC-80B-C-5.jpg (160585 bytes)

Here is a section from a long recording of an episode of atrial fibrillation (afib) plus it includes a PVC (second line, obvious). The sliding page bar at the bottom right allows one to scroll through the whole record. Also see the next figures.

comparative-handheld-PC-80B-C-6.jpg (161182 bytes)

With the "All ECG Wave" tab clicked, one gets the full disclosure of a recording, in this case, a long recording of an afib episode.

comparative-handheld-PC-80B-C-7.jpg (232415 bytes)

Continuing with the afib recording shown above, the afib converted on its own during the course of the recording. By using the "ECG Analysis" tab, which shows heart rate (HR) trend, one can easily see the point of conversion toward the end of the recording when the rate which has been fluctuating around 130 drops to around 100.

comparative-handheld-PC-80B-C-8.jpg (158443 bytes)

And the afib with its conversion is also seen when plotted in another way by clicking on the "Irregular Rhythm Trend" tab, as seen here.

comparative-handheld-PC-80B-C-9.jpg (159468 bytes)

Printed example of a recording (NSR plus some PVCs).

comparative-handheld-PC-80B-C-10.jpg (137777 bytes)

Device characteristics

Other aspects and comments: State-of-the-art 1-lead (with the possibility of doing sequential other leads), handheld ECG device with very sophisticated but intuitive and easy-to-use software. Both the device and software have gone through numerous revisions and improvements since the original PC-80.

Notes and cautions: This device seems to be available in different versions under a confusing array of similar names related to "PC-80B" (and "Prince 180B", which is similar but not identical ... it is generally sold for less, does not usually include the cable/lead-wires, and does not do continuous recording, only 30 second recordings [even if one gets the cable/lead-wires and uses that for electrode input]; see next device described, below)! The specific one that I reviewed here is referred to by the originating company (Creative Medical, Shenzhen, China) as both "PC-80B Color" and "PC-80B Color Bluetooth" although not all of the units called "Bluetooth" have the wireless Bluetooth connection; some may have and connect to a computer by USB or ZigBee options! There are also [earlier?] versions of PC-80B (and Prince 180B) that have a SD memory card slot but do not have all of the features (as well as I can determine from the descriptions) of the one with the color display and wireless option. This latest one should at least be called PC-80C (which the company also uses in one of the web links for it and some sellers refer to it as PC-80B-C).

The device appears to have evolved and divided into more options and versions faster than its name has been able to keep up! Thus, I urge care and caution that an interested buyer be very careful when purchasing a unit to make sure you carefully specify or shop for and get the specific one you want. The one I tested was "PC-80B Color" (with emphasis on "Color" in the name) with USB connection, not wireless or ZigBee.

The software disk that comes with the latest version may also have earlier versions of the software included on the disk with little indication as to which one should be used! I had to use the "wireless" version of the software even though my specific unit was USB, not wireless! And the user manuals seem to be a mixture of versions. The confusion over software version may have led to poor reviews of the device by other persons on other web sites.

Hopefully the company will clean up the current mess. (I understand they are working on it, based on my reports to them, and I'll eventually be able to delete these notes and cautions.) In the meantime, it remains a mess and you need to be careful so you get exactly the version you want when purchasing and then select the correct software version on the disk when installing.

Color/letter coding of the lead-wire connections: When trying to run (sequential) 12-lead combinations with the lead wires, I got confusing results using the 3 lead-wire connections following the color/letter codes and company recommendations. I also have gotten several inquiries about this issue from persons who bought the PC-80B Color device. As currently supplied, the lead-wires appear to be incorrectly (or at least confusingly) colored/marked. Here's what worked best for me regarding the lead-wire connections:
* red/"R": okay as indicated -- right side or negative electrode
* green/"F": use as the left side or positive electrode
* yellow/"L": use as the neutral or ground (right leg or RL)

(I marked mine with a permanent marker to remind me.) When used that way, they appear to work in the various positions as with sequential 12-lead electrodes. I plan to do more testing along these lines and hope to eventually post the results here.

Sources: See the links to the company at the start of this section. The PC-80B color might become available from after their stock of the original PC-80s are sold out. It is also available from numerous other sources including several US suppliers and is often listed on eBay – do a web or eBay search for it. (But, again, make sure you request and get the version you want, and install the "wireless" version of the software even if you don't get an actual wireless unit ... see earlier comments.)

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