Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) is a procedure designed for treating congestive heart failure and angina. But, although this treatment has proven effective in reducing symptoms of angina in people with coronary artery disease (CDA), many cardiologists are yet to accept it. Keep reading this guide to learn more about this treatment.

What Is EECP?

EECP is a non-invasive treatment that helps reduce the intensity and frequency of angina episodes. It is administered in three pairs of inflatable cuffs applied around one’s upper legs, lower legs, and buttocks. These cuffs inflate and deflate continuously between the resting periods of your heartbeat.

This therapy increases the amount of blood returning to your heart and by so doing, more oxygen is supplied to areas that are starved. When there’s enough supply of oxygen, our hearts can function effectively and efficiently thus lessening angina symptoms like chest pains. Patients under this treatment rarely need anti-anginal medicine. EECP lasts for seven consecutive weeks. Therefore, a patient will visit their doctor for one hour every day.

History of the Treatment

EECP was first used in China in the 1960s. However, more than a decade ago, it was introduced to Malaysia where today, there are several machines in operation. The idea behind EECP therapy was got from the development of an intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) that increases the amount of blood that the heart can pump by inflating a balloon between each heartbeat in the aorta. Inventors discovered that when the aorta opens up, it promotes blood flow hence our hearts don’t need to work hard. This similar principle applies in EECP only that, EECP aims at providing more blood for the heart to pump. As such, our hearts don’t put extra effort and this is especially good for someone with damaged heart tissues.

What Happens During the Procedure?

Patients lie on a table. The doctor then applies three electrodes on your chest which are connected to an ECG (electrocardiograph) machine. ECG machines display the rhythm of your heart during this treatment. Doctors also monitor blood pressure. Cuffs are then wrapped, which attach to air horses connected to the valves that help in inflation and deflation. One will experience a hug-like feeling moving from their calves to thighs to buttocks when there’s inflation. And during deflation, you’ll feel a rapid pressure release.

How Does It Work?

EECP works by compressing blood vessels in your lower limbs firmly but gently to increase the flow of blood in your heart. Each pressure applied is in synchrony with your heartbeat such that blood is delivered exactly when your heart is relaxing. This, in turn, minimizes blood vessel resistance in your legs and promotes the pumping of more blood.

Is EECP Effective?

Well, several studies suggest that this treatment can help reduce symptoms of angina. Some studies also claim that it helps in exercise tolerance in patients with CAD. As such, experts say that when administered correctly, it can improve one’s quality of life compared to placebo therapy. However, since our bodies are different, it’s difficult to predict precisely how long this treatment will last.

Who Is Supposed to Get this Treatment? 

Doctors may prescribe this therapy if angina symptoms are not controlled by prescribed medications. Also, EECP is useful for people with certain conditions or diseases that make them poor candidates for surgery. Additionally, individuals with heart conditions that weren’t cured with surgery or angioplasty can undergo this therapy. However, EECP isn’t recommended for pregnant mothers, individuals with higher blood pressure and fast heartbeats of more than 180/100 and 120beats per minute respectively. Other conditions like arrhythmias, worsening heart failure, deep vein thrombosis, etc. can also limit one from undergoing this procedure.

Conclusion

EECP is an effective solution for someone suffering from angina after trying all other medical therapies. It is non-invasive, plus it helps strengthen your heart and improve blood circulation. Not to mention, you don’t need recovery time. However, this treatment is not suitable for everyone. Plus, it may bring some side effects. It would be helpful if you got advised by a doctor.

If you’re looking for an EECP center Petaling Jaya, there are many of them. But make sure that you do your research independently on different clinics before deciding where to get treated.

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