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October 20th - November 23rd, 2005

If You Have to Ask…

Following the case of a woman who got arrested for driving after drinking just one glass of wine, the Washington Post has taken a look at two cheap personal breathalyzer devices. They are the Alcohawk Checkpoint ($24.99 for 12 single-use tubes) and the Legal Limit Breathscan ($3.99 for a key chain holder and one tester).


The conclusion:


Though some reports vouch for the accuracy of certain handheld testers, many experts say that self-testing is not a good idea. (Legal Limit is marketed as a device for testing a possibly drunk friend.) An accurate reading depends on breathing properly, and "if you're impaired, you're more likely to mess it up," said Robert Shesser, chairman of emergency medicine at George Washington University Hospital. His advice: If you've been drinking and "think you should take a breathalyzer test, you shouldn't be driving."

November 23rd, 2005



Guide to Buying the Best Breathalyzer

The best introductory website for information about breathalyzers and alcohol detection equipment is probably that of Q3 Innovations, which makes the AlcoHawk range of digital alcohol testers.


The website shows the results of breathalyzer comparison tests carried out by MPH magazine.


Various media reports are available online:


The Montreal Gazette in November 2005 provided a short review of the AlcoHawk Elite monitor....Continue reading Guide to Buying the Best Breathalyzer.

November 21st, 2005

Thermometer Guidance for Babies

A new Mum asks a St Louis Post-Dispatch advice columnist for help on what kind of thermometer to use for her baby:


I'm confused about temperature-taking. I thought rectal temperatures were the most accurate, but now the nurse at my doctor's office says to subtract a degree if you use a rectal thermometer. So my son's 100-degree temperature is suddenly nothing to worry about because it's only 99. Is this right?


And the answer:


Dr. Heidi Sallee, assistant professor of pediatrics at St. Louis University and a pediatrician at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, says rectal temperature-taking is still the standard. And go with the temperature on the thermometer - don't worry about adding or subtracting.

"The best way to get a core temperature, a real temperature, is rectally," said Sallee, who also noted that "there have been no good medical studies published to say whether you should add a degree under the arm."

For infants less than 2 months old, if a rectal temperature reaches 100.5, it's time to call the doctor. "They are going to get a huge work-up, spinal tap, hospital stay," says Sallee. "In infants under 2 months, that 100.5 is critical." She says that once a child is more than 2 months old, it's best to look at the behavior of the child combined with what the thermometer is telling you.

"The actual degree of fever doesn't matter as much as looking at the child and the symptoms," she said. "If the temperature is 101 and they are alert and eating well, that's not as much of a concern as if it's 101 and they are lethargic and not eating."

November 17th, 2005


Guide to Buying the Best Heart Rate Monitor

An excellent introductory guide comes from Running Times, titled Guide to Heart Rate Monitors, based on tests of 10. According to the report:


Selecting a monitor can be as overwhelming as buying a computer - the selection of options is staggering. All of them provide the key data you want - your continuous heart rate during exercise. Some advanced features provide valuable data, while others are toys for the technogeek. The bottom line is how much gadgetry you are comfortable with....continue reading Guide to Buying the Best Heart Rate Monitor
November 13th, 2005

Guide to Buying the Best Body Fat Monitor

It is difficult to find objective information about body fat monitors, also known as body composition monitors. The following information is intended to make your search a little easier.


The “About” website, in its Health and Fitness section has several articles: Before You Buy a Body Fat Monitor, Top 6 Body Fat Monitors, What’s Your Body Fat? and Body Composition Basics.


A commercial site, Test Medical Symptons @ Home, contains a lengthy article, Understanding Body Fat Analysis, and a table, Primary Methods of Determining Body Fat....continue reading Guide to Buying the Best Body Fat Monitor.

November 11th, 2005

Guide to Buying the Best Pedometer

Pedometers are everywhere. Your local supermarket possibly even sells several varieties. Amazon lists around 250 pedometer products. In fact, of more than 3,800 health monitor products being sold by Amazon, a pedometer - the Omron HJ-112 - is the most popular. How do you choose?


Price, accuracy and special features will be the keys for most people. The following is a guide to finding on the internet the information that you need....continue reading Guide to Buying the Best Pedometer
November 10th, 2005


A Nurse Chooses the Best Home Blood Pressure Monitor

There's an interesting report in the Orlando Sentinel – apparently originally from Newsday - with a registered nurse testing various home blood pressure monitors:


What I want: Accuracy. Automatic monitors are nice and convenient with automatic inflation and digital readouts, but the least expensive and most accurate is a manual device.

I must have: A cuff size that fits; too small will give a reading too high, too big will give a reading too low. The cuff on a manual monitor has a built-in stethoscope (not the best choice if you're hard of hearing, because you need to hear your heartbeat through the 'scope). A semiautomatic monitor provides a digital readout, but you have to inflate the cuff, while an automatic monitor is most popular because it does all the work for you -- but you pay for that convenience.

What I hate: Finger and wrist monitors are cute but not very accurate; a wrist cuff is too far from your heart, so the reading will be lower.

Savvy shopper: If you're buying a monitor on a recommendation from your doctor, check to see if your health insurance plan covers the cost. Also, monitors that connect to your PC can give you more information and even analyze the reading.


Her choice was a Samsung manual blood pressure monitor, costing $39.99 at Target. The “next best thing” was the Omron HEM-780, a fully automatic model.

November 6th, 2005



Finding the Best Medical Thermometers

A digital home medical thermometer is becoming a standard family accessory. Unfortunately, it is not easy to find objective reviews of thermometers (or of most other personal health monitor products) on the internet. This article is intended as a list of sites that will guide you....continue reading Internet Guide to Finding the Best Home Medical Thermometer.

November 4th, 2005

Buying a Home Blood Pressure Monitor

Amazon sells more than 1,100 blood pressure products. Not all are monitors, and some monitors come in dozens of varieties, each with a separate Amazon listing. But still, hundreds of home monitors are on the market. Where do you start?...continue reading Guide to Buying the Best Home Blood Pressure Monitor.
November 4th, 2005

The Best Home Thermometers

Consumer Reports has published its latest test results on home thermometers. The full report is only available to subscribers, but a press release is here. The report found that ear and forehead thermometers, though giving very quick readings, were difficult to use, were not always accurate and were expensive. Rather, the Accu-Beep digital thermometer from BD did the best job, beeping when properly placed under the tongue and giving an accurate reading in sixty seconds. For quicker results, the report recommended the Vick's Comfort-Flex thermometer and the Omron 20-seconds digital thermometer.

November 1st, 2005


Strong Healthcare Business for Omron

One of the leaders in personal healthcare monitors, Japan’s Omron, has announced its business results for the half year to September 2005. Its healthcare sales (which represent around 10% of total company turnover) rose 15.3% to 27.55 billion yen (about $235 million).


According to a report in Investor’s Business Daily:


In Japan, interest in healthcare continued to increase, and despite the slackening growth rate of body composition monitors, which expanded strongly in the previous fiscal year, sales of digital blood pressure monitors and other products were favorable, and overall sales increased over the same period in the previous fiscal year. In overseas markets, sales declined due to slower demand for digital blood pressure monitors in the United States and China, but sales of digital blood pressure monitors and nebulizers, which are core products, increased in Europe and Southeast Asia.

November 1st, 2005


Honor for Innovative Thermometer

Xilas Medical is to be honored at this week’s Stars of Innovation Gala – organized by the San Antonio Technology Accelerator Initiative – for its ground-breaking TempTouch thermometer for diabetics. The thermometer is for diabetics who have nerve damage, and allows them to check for "hot spots" or inflammation on the bottoms of their feet. An estimated one-third of diabetics suffer from foot ailments, and an estimated 20% of all diabetes-related hospitalizations stem from foot problems. Further details are at the Xilas website.

October 30th, 2005



Taylor 7009 Electronic Lithium Scale with Large Read Out

Here is another of Amazon’s popular products. The official specifications are as follows:



  • Slim profile
  • Solid Steel Construction
  • Large LCD display
  • Instant on and automatic zero
  • Accurate to 300 LBS or 136KG


Taylor, the leader in bathroom scales, offers a simple, easy to use, dependable bathroom scale. Slim and compact, the scale allows easy storage in cramped bathrooms. Attractive silver finish, with smooth black mat. Featuring auto on/auto off - just step on the scale to get an accurate reading - Taylor uses strain gauge mechanisms for precise results. The display is easy to read, the capacity of 300 lbs (136 kgs) reads to the 0.5 lb. Includes a long-life lithium battery for readings day after day, week after week, month after month with no replacement. Lifetime warranty.


A larger image is here.

October 21st, 2005


Review of Omron Body Fat Tracker

It’s not easy to find comprehensive and objective reviews of personal health monitors. So it is good to read an excellent review of the Omron HPF 306 body fat tracker, which I previewed a few days ago. The review is by Charlie White at the Digital Toys website.


He concludes:


One of our colleagues here at the Midwest Test Facility is built like a model and rail-thin, and it measured her percentage of body fat and BMI at an identical percentage of 18.5%. Others of us who are not so fortunate ranged from 25 to 33%. It was also interesting to note that various times of the day yielded different readings, where early in the morning a reading of 23.7% turns to a 25.2% reading late in the afternoon. According to the documentation, this is normal because different levels of fluid fluctuate during the day.


We found the Omron Body Fat Analyzer to be an accurate instrument, and easy and fun to use as well. It’s simple to set up, and even though it doesn’t store its readings, it stores your personal data so you won’t need to enter it each time you use it, and offers consistent results. The price is right, and it’s helping us keep an eye on our overall personal health. Highly recommended. 9.5 out of 10 stars.


Read the whole review.

October 20th, 2005


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