Enhanced external counterpulsation (known as EECP) may be an option to relieve your angina when all other treatments have failed or aren’t right for you. It can help your blood vessels make a natural bypass around narrowed or blocked arteries that cause your chest pain.
How It Works
EECP treatment uses several blood pressure cuffs on both legs to gently, but firmly, compress the blood vessels there to boost blood flow to your heart. Each wave is timed to your heartbeat. So more blood goes there when it’s relaxing.
When your heart pumps again, pressure is released right away. This lets blood be pumped more easily.
EECP may help some small blood vessels in your heart open. They may give more blood flow to your heart muscle. This helps ease your chest pain.
What to Expect
EECP isn’t invasive. It’s also an outpatient therapy.
You lie down on a padded table in a treatment room. Three electrodes are put on your chest and connected to an electrocardiograph. That displays your heart's rhythm. Blood pressure is also tracked.
A set of cuffs is wrapped around your calves, thighs, and buttocks. They attach to air hoses that connect to valves that inflate and deflate the cuffs.
You’ll feel a strong "hug" upward from your calves to thighs to buttocks while the cuffs inflate. Then pressure will go down as they deflate. It’s all in time with your heartbeat and blood pressure.
How Often Are Treatments Given?
If you’re accepted for EECP treatment, you’ll have 35 hours of therapy. It’s given 1-2 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 7 weeks.
Am I a Candidate?
You may be if you:
- Have chronic stable chest pain
- Aren’t helped by nitrates, calcium channel blockers, and beta-blockers
- Aren’t a candidate for invasive procedures, like bypass surgery, angioplasty, or stenting.
Studies have shown benefits for people getting EECP, including:
- Less need for anti-anginal medicine
- Fewer symptoms
- Ability to be more active without symptoms