Heart disease is an exceedingly common condition with serious effects on health and quality of life. Characterized by damage or malfunction of the vessels, muscle, rhythms or valves of the heart, cardiovascular disease is associated with a number of causes, symptoms and possible treatment methods.
For example, in addition to lifestyle changes and medication, heart disease often requires invasive surgical techniques, each of which is designed to correct damage, extend lifespan and significantly enhance quality of life. And while invasive cardiovascular surgeries are often effective, a newer, less-invasive technique known as EECP therapy can be just as successful in treating certain forms of heart disease. Keep reading to find out more about EECP, including information on procedure, effectiveness and candidacy.
What is EECP Therapy?
EECP, or enhanced external counterpulsation, is a noninvasive, outpatient procedure used in treating chest pain as a result of coronary artery disease. During EECP therapy, which is used in conjunction with an electrocardiogram machine, the patient’s legs are wrapped with inflatable cuffs, closely resembling blood-pressure cuffs. With the patient lying down, the leg cuffs are inflated and deflated in sync with the patient’s heartbeat: deflation occurs at the beginning of each heartbeat, while the cuffs inflate at the end of each heartbeat. The inflation of the cuffs is sequential, and acts to move blood from the patient’s legs upward to the heart.
EECP therapy is administered in a series of one-hour sessions, usually for a total of 35 treatments. And, according to experts at Global Cardio Care Centers, EECP therapy is safe, effective and requires no recovery time.
What are the Benefits of EECP Therapy?
EECP therapy can several beneficial effects on cardiovascular function. First of all, by moving blood to the heart, EECP can enhance circulation to the coronary arteries, which, in patients with heart disease, is critically important. Secondly, by providing a deflating action at the end of every heartbeat, EECP creates a vacuum effect in the arteries, reducing the amount of work needed for the heart to pump blood to the arteries. Combined, these effects also promote healthy oxygen levels in the heart, which is often a major component of treating coronary artery disease.
Is EECP Right for You?
If you have chest pain as a result of coronary artery disease, despite having received other noninvasive treatments, or having been deemed an unfit candidate for surgery, EECP can help enhance heart function and improve quality of life. This treatment can also help improve symptoms of congestive heart failure, cardiogenic shock and acute myocardial infarction. It’s important to note, though, that EECP isn’t for everyone. For example, individuals with the following conditions should avoid EECP:
- Valvular heart disease.
- Aortic insufficiency .
- Peripheral artery disease.
- Atrial fibrillation.
- Deep vein thrombosis.
- Individuals who have undergone a recent heart catheterization.
With all the new advancements in the field of cardiology, treatments for heart disease are getting safer, less invasive and more effective. And with EECP, patients with various types of cardiovascular disease can experience relief from chest pain, enhanced heart function and improved quality of life. Talk to your cardiologist to see if EECP therapy is right for you.