ENHANCED EXTERNAL COUNTERPULSATION (EECP)
EECP is a non-invasive procedure that can reduce the symptoms of angina by increasing the coronary blood flow in blood deprived areas of the heart. The benefits of EECP appear to last between treatments, and may persist long after the completion of a course of therapy.
This technique involves the use of the EECP Device to inflate and deflate a series of compression cuffs wrapped around the patient calves, lower thighs, and upper thighs. Inflation and deflation of the cuffs is controlled by events in the cardiac cycle using computer-interpreted ECG signals. During diastole (rest period for the heart) the cuffs inflate sequentially from the calves, resulting in increased blood pressure and increased coronary perfusion (and therefore, flow into the heart arteries). Compression of the veins in the legs also increases blood flow and cardiac output. Rapid and simultaneous decompression of the cuffs at the onset of systole (work period of the heart) permits the heart to pump blood more easily.
Patients are treated with EECP 1 hour a day for a total of 35 hours, and external compression is progressively increased, as needed, to raise blood pressures gradually. Studies of the effects of counterpulsation have shown that several factors give this treatment the potential to assist patients.
Counterpulsation increases the volume of blood that flows throughout the body.
The resting blood pressure is increased, allowing the blood to flow through the body more easily.
The coronary collateral flow (natural bypasses) to the blood deprived regions of the heart is increased.
Higher blood pressure means greater blood flow to the vital organs.
EECP can offer relief in patients with angina, including a reduced need for angina medications. It can reduce the frequency and intensity of chest pain and increase exercise tolerance, as well as immediate and sustained improvement in heart perfusion of the blood to deprived areas. As a result of symptomatic and clinical improvements, patients have reported an improved sense of well-being and overall improvement in quality of life.
Treatment with EECP offers potential clinical benefits to patients who generally have little more than medical therapy as a recourse. Studies have shown that treatment with EECP improves angina symptoms and perfusion of blood deprived regions of the myocardium (assessed through a nuclear stress test) for up to three years following initial treatment.