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The coronary arteries supply oxygen and nutrition to the heart. Chest pain (medically known as angina) is caused by gradual blockage of the coronary arteries. Prior to 1997 the options to treat chest pain were limited to medication, Angioplasty and Bypass surgery. Now, a new treatment called EECP is introduced, which has been approved by F.D.A., U.S.A. EECP is a mechanical procedure that avoids surgery, is completely safe, painless and non-invasive in nature.
EECP is the first nonsurgical, non-pharmaceutical, mechanical treatment for patients with chest pain and heart failure. It helps to increase blood flow to the heart muscles deprived of adequate blood supply. The beneficial effect obtained after the completion of treatment persists for years together. Thus any need for surgery is totally avoided/need for intervention reduced.
You may be a candidate if:
Despite the advances in cardiology in treating chest pain and heart failure, the problem still persists. Drugs do not always provide relief and invasive procedures have their own associated risk factors. EECP can provide the patients with all the advantage similar to that of medication. Further, symptom relief upon EECP usage is comparable to that of invasive procedures without undergoing them.
In an EECP session, the patient lies on a padded table. Three large inflatable cuffs, similar to blood pressure cuffs, are strapped around the calves, lower thighs, upper thighs and buttocks. The patient's heart beat is monitored by an electrocardiograph display in the machine, which through the computer regulates the inflation and deflation of the cuffs. During the part of the cardiac cycle when the heart is at rest (diastole), the cuffs are rapidly inflated in sequential order beginning with the cuffs at the calves and working upward. Just before systole (heart contraction), the cuffs are simultaneously deflated.
The treatment is delivered for a period of 35 hours. This period is broken into every day one hour periods spread over five days a week.
EECP involves 35 days of treatment. Each treatment session is for one hour and the patients are asked to come six days a week for six weeks. It is very important that the patients adhere to the one-hour time schedule fixed by the hospital or medical center and that the treatment is continued without a break.
EECP helps to relieve angina by promoting collateral circulation.
Formation of network of tiny blood vessels, which make it possible for blood to detour around blocked or narrow arteries, is called collateral circulation. However, the development of collateral circulation is a gradual process and not everyone has the same ability to develop these networks at the rate that will relieve angina. EECP treatment triggers and accelerates this collateral circulation and makes it permanent.
EECP increases the blood flow to the heart muscles. The increase in blood flow to the area of heart muscle not receiving enough blood supply is achieved by two means by EECP treatment (1) Forming new vessels around the blocked artery. (2) Because of increase blood flow and pressure during EECP there is high pressure in open coronary arteries and lower pressure in closed arteries. Blood finds its way to the low pressure zone or area, which has decreased blood supply by opening the collaterals. These collaterals eventually become permanent.
Three sets of cuffs in lower limbs inflate sequentially from distal to proximal one by one and then all cuffs deflate simultaneously for every cardiac cycle
EECP Enhances coronary collateral circulation (opening and enlarging normally closed arteries when there is blockade thereby creating alternative route of blood supply to heart muscle)
EECP stimulates Angiogenesis (Development of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels)
Experimental animal heart before and after EECP
EECP treatment is painless and comfortable.
The treatment is like a ‘Passive Exercise’, without increasing your blood pressure and heart rate. There is a feeling of rhythmic pressure from the cuffs around your legs and buttocks. Usually, patients can watch TV or listen to music when the session is being delivered. It is not abnormal to feel tired after the first few sessions. But this will pass as the number of sessions increase.