Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) improves the flow of healthy, oxygenated blood to the heart by opening or forming small blood vessels, which create natural bypasses around narrowed or blocked arteries.
What Is EECP?
Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) is a noninvasive procedure in which a set of inflatable cuffs (similar to blood pressure cuffs) mechanically compress the blood vessels in your lower limbs. This increases the blood flow and oxygen back to the heart, reducing the work that the heart has to do. It also improves circulation and strengthens the cardiopulmonary system. EECP does not have the risks or recovery time associated with surgery. It is FDA-approved, Medicare-approved and usually covered by insurance.
Why Would You Have EECP?
EECP is the only non-invasive treatment for coronary artery disease, angina and congestive heart failure. The procedure reduces or eliminates angina, increases energy and helps patients return to a more active lifestyle. EECP is used to treat patients with:
- Chronic stable angina (lack of blood to the heart that causes severe chest pains)
- Coronary artery disease
- High blood pressure
- Congestive heart failure
- Heart attack
This procedure is particularly effective for those who:
- Have had coronary angioplasty, stents or coronary artery bypass graft surgery, but their heart disease symptoms have returned
- Are not candidates for surgery because of other medical conditions
- Do not want to undergo surgery
- Have diabetes
- Have small vessels (often women)
- Rely on medications
What to Expect During EECP
Preparing for Your Procedure
Prior to your treatment, you’ll meet with your doctor to discuss your medical history, the medicines you take and any questions you have about the procedure. Wear tight-fitting, seamless cycling pants or athletic tights to prevent chafing, one of the main adverse side effects of this treatment.
During Your Procedure
- You lie comfortably on a special bed.
- A series of blood pressure cuffs are placed around your legs.
- An EKG triggers the cuffs to inflate and deflate in sync with your own heartbeat, pumping healthy blood throughout your body and taking a load off your heart.
- During the heart’s resting phase, when it normally receives its supply of blood, the cuffs inflate, pushing oxygen-rich blood toward your heart.
- Just before your heart begins pumping again, the cuffs rapidly deflate and blood leaves your heart without the muscle having to work as hard.
- Most patients relax during the treatment by reading, listening to music, or even sleeping.
- Each treatment takes about 60 minutes.