Enhanced external counter-pulsation therapy (EECP) is a simple and non-invasive procedure performed on individuals with angina. What differentiates this therapy is the fact that there is no associated hospital stay and that there is no associated recovery period. Since this is an out-patient procedure, individuals undergoing the treatment can return to their routine immediately.
The basic idea behind this procedure is to help the heart with pumping and increase the pressure naturally, thereby helping to relieve blocks in the arteries. Further, with restoration of nutrient-rich blood flow to parts of the body that have had less blood flow due to constrictions, there is a revitalization of tissues and this in turn helps individuals achieve better overall health. Treatment lasts for about 35 hours, spread over 5 days a week, for an hour each day.
The individual undergoing the EECP treatment is made to lie down on a comfortable treatment table and pneumatic cuffs are strapped around the legs and buttocks. The electrocardiogram is then monitored and the cuffs are timed to inflate and deflate based on the same. The inflation is also controlled by a pressure monitor, to ensure safe limits. When this cycle is initiated, the cardiac output of the heart is increased, as the afterload, which the heart has to pump against, is reduced, whilst the preload is increased. Blood flow into the coronary arteries is increased during this phase. Thus during the temporary treatment period, there is increased blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscle and the heart has less pumping to do.
Before the treatment is initiated, there is a general medical check-up and patients are advised to empty their bladder. After the patient lies comfortably on the treatment table, the cuffs and monitors are put on and the treatment is initiated. On an average, positive results begin to show after about halfway through the seven week program period. Data has shown that the positive benefits of the therapy last up to 3 years post completion of the full 35-hour period.
The benefits of the EECP therapy include
- It is a non-invasive procedure. Thus, there is no fear of complications from infections and the like.
- It is a simple and cost-effective treatment option that is US (FDA) approved.
- Since it is an out-patient procedure, individuals can readily return to their normal routine.
- Even patients who have undergone invasive treatments can undergo EECP without any complications.
- EECP helps in achieving an improved health and lifestyle, thereby leading to better quality of life.