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Home Medical Testing Devices: Closely Monitor Your Own Health, Part 2

Monitoring your health at home can be not only convenient but also a potential lifesaver for people with chronic health conditions. Dr. Emily Senay reviews some of the most popular high-tech gadgets on the market.

Home medical testing is a booming consumer product sector. The idea is that as baby boomers age, many want to take a more active role in monitoring their health. Some doctors fear that when used improperly people may get wrong results and end up calling their doctors needlessly. But when used right a lot of these products really can be useful. I think by taking a quick look at what's out there we will get an idea of how this industry is growing.

These products are not for everyone. Rather, they are designed for people with specific health problems that they may want to home monitor. The home EKG monitor is for people with heart problems and is available from The Sharper Image. It's made in Germany. You turn it on and then put your two thumbs on it for 10 seconds. It can indicate arrhythmia, deviations, and irregularities. It's not nearly a thorough as a real EKG, but it does take readings and do calculations of the major factors included in a real EKG. Then it gives you some simple data such as whether are you in or out of standard rhythms and whether you have an arrythmia. If you are out of standard, then you may want to see your doctor.

It's mostly kids that have asthma, so this asthma monitor is mainly for kids to test how their medicine and lifestyle are working. You blow into the unit and it gives you some data such as peak flow and volume of air. You can chart your progress, which is helpful. Charting your progress can be useful in the same way a scale is useful to a dieter. It can help you stay on course.

There are a lot of people on blood thinners. People who have had strokes, for example, will be interested in the microcoagulation system. Making sure that your blood thinner is working properly is very important. It's also a pain, in that you have to go into the doctor a lot to have tests done. This lets you do the tests needed at home. What you do is draw a few drops of blood, place them in the test area, and the device runs a test and gives you the same results that you would get from a trip to the doctor. It's expensive at $1,500. But it may be worth it to people on blood thinners.

The last two products we'll look at are a couple of inexpensive urine tests. One tests for urinary track infections and the other for kidney and bladder infections. What you do in each case is to collect a cup of your urine and then dip a strip into it. If it changes color then you have tested positive, and you should see your doctor.

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