Enhanced External Counterpulsation Treatment (EECP)
Enhanced External Counterpulsation Treatment, shortened to EECP is a non-invasive and very effective option for qualifying patients that have persistent angina caused by severe blood flow restriction to the heart. To understand the effectiveness of EECP, we must first understand angina:
Angina represents unusual sensation or pain in the chest, usually associated with coronary artery disease. Angina can manifest as pain, tightness, pressure and/or squeezing amongst other symptoms. These feelings can occur in the chest, shoulder or even the back. Often patients confuse angina for a heart attack and go to the ER where they may be diagnosed with heart disease. Angina may be the first sign of heart disease, but persistent angina is usually caused by consistently reduced blood flow to the heart.
When Do I Need EECP?
Patients experiencing chronic angina, shortness of breath and other conditions caused by restricted blood flow to the heart and who have not responded to conservative treatments such as lifestyle changes and medications are often good candidates for EECP.
The typical EECP patients does not yet need or is not a good candidate for more invasive procedures but is debilitated by angina and related symptoms. Oftentimes, patients are not able to perform many routine daily activities because they simply do not have the energy or capacity to do so.
How Does EECP Work?
Patients lie comfortably on the EECP table and electrodes are placed on the chest to monitor vitals during the procedure. Blood pressure is also monitored in real time. The procedure is monitored and supervised by specially trained Heart House nursing staff.
Specially made cuffs are placed around the lower body (legs and buttocks) which are then inflated and deflated rhythmically to push blood from the lower extremities upward. To maximize effectiveness, the inflation and deflation is matched to the patient’s heartbeat.
The procedure is not painful, rather it creates a squeezing or hugging feeling that often feels odd to new patients, but quickly becomes normal after the first or second treatment. In total, patients will receive treatment five days a week for 6 weeks. Oftentimes, patients will notice a dramatic improvement in their ability to perform daily tasks much sooner.
What Does EECP Do and How Effective is It?
Very simply, EECP stimulates the movement of blood from the lower extremities back to the heart. This promotes revascularization (creation of new blood vessels) that bypasses the blockages causing angina and associated debilitating symptoms.
EECP has been proven very effective and there are virtually no significant side effects. Once the revascularization process is complete, the benefits are long-term, and many patients are able to return to normal activity with fewer anginal episodes and a greater sense of normalcy. While patients will not have a defined schedule for retreatment (and may never need the procedure again) improving lifestyle in the form of better diet and exercise habits ensures a more effective and longer-lasting treatment.
What Our Patients Say
“I will come back next year for my EECP treatments as they help me breathe much better and I am able to do more chores without having to sit. Cindy you help me to relax doing my treatments. You are one of a kind woman. I am so happy to have you come into my life. You gave me hope and lifted my spirits every day since my cardiac cath results.”
“I was unable to take care of myself. I didn’t drive for over a year, I had no life outside my home. I wasn’t even able to go outside and enjoy our yard because I couldn’t breathe. Doctor Dilip Viswanath made the recommendation that I start EECP therapy. I hugged the wall down the hall to my first session…I was able to walk back slow but without help. I felt better with each passing day.I felt better with each passing day. I had my life back. I have my freedom again and am able to drive again.”
“I came into the office with shortness of breath, no stamina. I have a bad heart, weak legs and hands. I had pain throughout my body. Pain in my chest – a heart that sometimes fails me. Now, after 35 days on the machine, I breathe better, no pain in my chest; legs. It allows me to walk more. I feel so much better. I can do more.”