Enhanced External Counter Pulsation (EECP) is performed as a non-invasive treatment to lower the number and intensity of angina episodes. Treatment is administered through three pairs of external inflatable cuffs that are applied around the lower legs, upper legs and buttocks.
What Is EECP?
EECP is a mechanical procedure in which long inflatable cuffs (like blood pressure cuffs) are wrapped around both of the patient’s legs. While the patient lies on a bed, the leg cuffs are inflated and deflated synchronously with each heartbeat.
The inflation and deflation are controlled by a computer, which uses the patient’s ECG to trigger inflation early in diastole (when the heart relaxes and is filled with blood), and deflation just as systole (heart contraction) begins. The inflation of the cuffs occurs sequentially, from the lower part of the legs to the upper, so that the blood in the legs is “milked” upwards, toward the heart.
EECP has at least two potentially beneficial actions on the heart. First, the milking action of the leg cuffs increases the blood flow to the coronary arteries during diastole. (The coronary arteries, unlike other arteries in the body, receive their blood flow in between heartbeats, instead of during each heartbeat.)
Second, by its deflating action just as the heart begins to beat, EECP creates something like a sudden vacuum in the arteries, which reduces the work the heart muscle has to perform in pumping blood. It is also speculated that EECP may help reduce endothelial dysfunction.
The basic principle of EECP treatment involves increasing the amount of blood returning to the heart, which helps supply more oxygen to its starved areas. With more oxygen available, the heart can function much more efficiently and therefore reduce chest pain.
The treatment schedule includes 7 weeks of continuous treatments, which require daily visits for one hour, Monday through Friday.
What Are the Benefits of EECP Treatment?
- Increased oxygen supply for the heart
- Decrease in chest pain
- Improved EKG response to exercise
- Decrease in nitroglycerin use
- Increase in energy
- Increased exercise duration
- Long term effects up to 2 years