What is EECP Therapy?
Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP) is a non-surgical outpatient procedure that may reduce the symptoms of angina by improving heart and blood vessel function.
EECP is normally considered for Patients with chronic, stable angina who are not candidates for surgery and whose medication is losing effectiveness.
Why it’s done
EECP Therapy can provide an increase in energy levels, reduce angina occurrences or lessen the intensity of angina attacks when they do occur, reduce the need to use angina medication, improve quality of life, and increase ability to exercise.
Research has indicated EECP may stimulate the openings or formation of small branches of blood vessels to the heart, increasing blood flow. These “openings” can be natural bypasses around the blocked arteries.
In clinical trials, EECP has been shown to improve blood flow to deprived areas of heart muscle, relieve symptoms of angina in Patients who are not responding to medical therapy, eliminate or reduce nitrate use, and improve ability to exercise.
EECP is non-invasive, meaning it carries little or no risk, is relatively painless, and is administered as an outpatient procedure.
EECP is not recommended for people with atrial fibrillation, blood clots, aortic aneurysms, severe congestive heart failure, severe lower extremity vascular disease or anyone who is pregnant.
How you prepare
Leading up to your treatment, you may be asked to refrain from eating a large meal or consuming anything with caffeine before your treatment session. These can interfere with the therapy session.
Before beginning EECP treatment your therapist will ask you to empty your bladder and to change into the special treatment pants. Your blood pressure, pulse, weight and oxygen saturation will be checked. Then you will be asked about any changes in your angina or your condition since your last treatment.
When you are lying comfortably on the treatment table, your therapist will put three ECG patches on your chest and wrap you snugly into the treatment cuffs.
As the therapy begins, air fills the cuffs and the pressure will squeeze your legs and buttocks. The cuffs will inflate and deflate, gradually feeling tighter until the full treatment pressure is reached.
At this point, you’re free to listen to music, watch TV, or take a nap for the rest of the hour.
What you can expect
During your treatment
It is important to tell the therapist if you are experiencing angina, having trouble breathing, feeling points of pressure or pain, or need to use the rest room. A brief pause in treatment to make you more comfortable will not decrease the benefits.
After your treatment session
Initiating EECP Therapy may be compared to starting an exercise program. Early in therapy, you may experience fatigue and leg soreness, as is the case with most exercise programs. However, as treatment progresses, the fatigue and soreness typically subsides.
Are you a candidate?
If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, ask your physician if EECP is right for you.