ECP  Frequently Asked Questions

What is Enhanced External Counterpulsation?

EECP® is a nonsurgical, mechanical procedure that can reduce the symptoms of angina pectoris, presumably by increasing coronary blood flow in ischemic areas of the heart. The beneficial effects of EECP® in patients with coronary artery disease appear to be sustained between treatments and may persist long after completion of a course of therapy.




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What does EECP® procedure include? 

While EECP® is performed, you will be lying on a bed wearing a series of pressure cuffs (like large blood pressure cuffs) around calves, lower thighs, and upper thighs.

The EECP® system includes a pressure source that inflates and deflates these cuffs. The pressure moves the blood from your lower limbs toward the heart. The vascular networks in the large muscles of your legs are compressed in sequence, progressing form the calves upward. Each wave of pressure is electronically synchronized with your heartbeat via an electrocardiographic signal, so that the increased blood flow is delivered to your heart at the precise moment it is relaxing and blood flow through the coronary vessels is at its peak. When the heart pumps again, the pressure in the cuffs is withdrawn and the cuffs are deflated instantaneously. This lowers resistance in the vascular bed of your legs so that blood may be pumped more easily form the heart.

What does the treatment involve and how long does it take?

Treatment with EECP® involves a series of 35 one-hour sessions over a period of approximately seven weeks. You must report to the medical center in time for each scheduled appointment and allow extra time to change into appropriate attire before beginning.

What are the physical effects of EECP®? Is it uncomfortable?

The one-hour treatment sessions with EECP® are painless. Because of the natural movement of the pressurized cuffs, chafing and skin irritation can occur. To prevent this, you are advised to wear light fitting pants, such as ankle length bicycle pants. Otherwise, there is virtually no discomfort. Many patients find they are able to listen to their favorite music and tapes, or otherwise relax during therapy.

Since it is timed by your heartbeat, the EECP® system will automatically turn off if your heartbeat goes above or below a specific rate. If you have any specific concerns about the effects of EECP® or your own physical limitations, you should consult your private physician.

Must you do anything special to prepare for treatment?

If you have been selected as a candidate by your treating physician, little else is required in the way or preparation.

Are there any precautions to take while receiving treatment?

You should continue taking your medication at the regular prescribed dosages throughout the course of treatment and confer with your physician as needed.

Are there any adverse reactions related to treatment with EECP®?

There are not known adverse effects as a result of receiving treatment with EECP®.

How soon can I expect to feel an improvement in my condition?

Because each individual's condition is unique, there is no specific time when you can expect to feel an improvement. Experience has shown; however, that patients tend to report some improvement in their condition after as few as 10 or 12 treatments sessions, although others do require longer.

What benefits might I experience from this treatment?

ECP can have a range of benefits depending upon the individual patient. Most patients suffering from chronic disabling angina pectoris have experienced relief of pain associated with this condition after a full course of treatment.

In a study of patients with chronic disabling angina, all experienced substantial relief of anginal symptoms after treatment with EECP®.

Typical benefits for patients might include:

  • Decreased in chest pain
  • Reduction in the use of medication
  • Ability to enjoy a more independently mobile and active lifestyle While it is not expected that everyone suffering from chronic angina pectoris will experience the same level of improvement, it does appear that EECP® is an effective therapy for many angina patients.
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