Blocks in the coronary arteries carrying the blood supply to the heart can lead to disabling and severe chest pain, shortness of breath and tiredness. Searches for an effective treatment, which can increase the blood flow again by alternative pathway, decrease the chest pain and improve the quality of life without any complicated invasive procedures, has yielded this new treatment called Enhanced External Counter Pulsation (EECP). This is the only non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical treatment approved by USFDA.
|What is EECP?
EECP is an outpatient treatment for patients suffering from chest pain and poor heart function. During the treatment the patient lies on a comfortable bed with large BP machine-like cuff wrapped around his/her legs and buttocks. These cuffs inflate and deflate at specific times between patient’s heart beats, facilitating collateral circulation. EECP develops new pathways around blocked arteries in the heart by expanding networks of tiny blood vessels (“capillaries”) that helps increase and normalize blood flow to the heart muscle.
|What is Collateral circulation?
Formation of network of tiny blood vessels which make it possible for blood to detour around blocked vessel or narrowed arteries is called collateral circulation. EECP treatment triggers and accelerates this collateral circulation and makes it permanent pathways for blood to flow to the heart muscles.
|What are the advantages of the EECP Therapy?
EECP is non-invasive, simple, safe, risk free and cost effective treatment without surgery or hospital stay. Patient can take this treatment without disturbing his/her daily routine.
|How long does EECP treatment take?
EECP involves 35 days of treatment. Each session is for 1 hour duration. Patients are asked to come six days a week for six weeks. Missed treatments can be adjusted and there by complete the course of 35 treatment session.
|What does EECP do?
EECP causes immediate and sustained increase in heart’s blood supply by:
- Dilating coronary blood vessels
- Opening dormant (unused) capillaries
- Forming new blood vessels (angiogenesis)
|Is EECP treatment comfortable?
There is a feeling of pressure from the cuffs around your legs and buttocks. It is like being tightly hugged by the cuffs. Ones you become accustomed this pressure, the sessions but this usually pass comfortably.
|What are the risks of EECP Therapy?
Occasionally, patients develop mild skin irritation in areas under the treatment cuffs or experience muscle or joint discomfort. Some patients feel tired after the first few sessions but this usually ends after the first week.
|When can I start feeling better from EECP?
Most of the patients begin feeling the clinical improvement from EECP between 15th to 20th sessions. These benefits include increase in overall energy level, decrease in angina or breath, completely stopping or decreasing nitro-glycerine.
|Is EECP a replacement for Bypass Surgery or Angioplasty?
Although EECP is not considered a replacement for coronary artery bypass surgery or angioplasty, EECP will re-establish the coronary blood flow with improved collateral flow. It develops a "Natural Bypass".
|Does EECP give symptom relief as Bypass and Angioplasty?
All these current modes of treatment help the heart by increasing the blood flow to the area of the heart muscle not receiving adequate blood supply. Once the blood supply is increased towards normal, the patient’s chest pain will be decreased or eliminated and his exercise tolerance will improve.
During EECP heart's natural mechanism of forming new vessel is enhanced which markedly increase the blood supply to the heart muscle. EECP also tends to improve your endothelial cell functions of the coronary arteries.
The blood flow of the heart muscles is not proportionate to the degree of narrowing in a coronary artery. Angiography is done to see the narrowing in only large coronary vessels. It is extremely suitable to identify stenosis, which is essential for angioplasty and bypass surgery. However angiography cannot visualize small arteries like arterioles and capillaries and cannot assess overall blood flow in a particular area of heart.
|Can EECP dislodge plaque and cause a stroke or heart attack?
No. Our body obeys the law of physics, and one principal law is that fluid will follow the path of least resistance. Plaques are calcified and hard, and they create an obstruction that detours the blood through alternate routes. During EECP, when your blood is flowing to your heart it will naturally bypass arteries with plaque and enter healthy, non diseased blood vessels to go around the blockages. Going around the blockages is a longer trip, but it is much easier one. In time, these new pathways are reinforced and become lasting routes for blood to reach your heart beyond the blockages. Every EECP patient has had multiple, serious blockages. No one ever had a heart attack or a stroke as a result of the treatment.
|Is EECP a recognized treatment?
EECP is internationally recognized by USFDA, CE mark (Europe) etc.