CardioChek Cholesterol Self-Test System Review

cchek_open.jpgI’ve often dreamt of throwing a cholesterol-testing party, but it’s just too expensive and then you have to wait for the results! But not anymore thanks to the CardioChek! The CardioChek Self-Test System, made by Polymer Technology Systems (PTS), lets you effortlessly test your cholesterol levels (total, HDL, calculated LDL and triglycerides) as well as glucose and ketones in four steps.

The $99 palm-sized device gives you a result in about a minute and with just two buttons and a basic menu system, it’s pretty straightforward to operate. This is good since there’s little documentation with the product or on the PTS Web site (though there is a training video and user guide), but if you need to monitor cholesterol levels regularly on your own, CardioChek is an accurate, inexpensive option.

CardioChek comes calibrated from the factory, ready for testing. However, the package includes two “check strips” to verify that it is in full, working order. There are no actual test strips included, though. Those come in packs of three and sell for about $10-$15 (I found them on for $12.49 a box). There are five types of tests you can buy, and since there’s no mixed package with all of the tests, you have to buy a box for each test you’d like to run. The boxes also include safety lancets, pipettes for collecting blood and a MEMo chip. The MEMo chip contains the settings for each test type, controlling the entire process and is specific to that set.

The testing process is simple: Insert MEMo chip, turn it on, insert strip, stick finger, collect blood, apply to strip and read results. Your blood causes a color-changing chemical reaction that the analyzer is able to measure and interpret. Basically it’s the same as a professional test. That didn’t stop me from being a little skeptical of the results (“holy crap, is my cholesterol really that high?!). But the result proved accurate as I had my cholesterol checked by my doctor, too. (So yes, holy crap, it was that high. Lots of bran, green vegetables and fish in my future.)

Once you have results (it’ll store up to 30 results with time and date), you’ll have to track down exactly what the numbers mean. PTS doesn’t include any information with the CardioChek nor with the test strips to help you decipher your results. I can forgive them for this, but PTS doesn’t even have a speck of helpful information on their Web site. I’d settle for a page of “helpful links.”

My guess is PTS assumes you’ll have already gotten this info from a doctor, which is a good assumption because you likely won’t be testing your blood for kicks. Still, it would have been nice to visit their horribly designed site and find some discussion on managing cholesterol, desirable levels, etc. etc. As a consumer shopping for a device like this, it would be much more comforting buying from a company that demonstrates they know about and understand my health concerns, even if it’s only for appearances.

This lack of information is my only gripe, though, and doesn’t impact the performance of the device itself. Not to get all serious on you, but self-testing your blood for a lot of people can mean the difference between life and death. The CardioChek is an affordable, simple solution for staying on top of your health minus the hassle of frequent doctor visits.