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. 

EECP is the only noninvasive 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. Enhanced external counterpulsation 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:

What to expect during enhanced external counterpulsation (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.

EECP treatment

While lying down: 

  • 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 heart beat, 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

After your procedure

Most patients report little or no discomfort during the procedure. Some people may feel tired after the first few treatments, but this loss of energy tends to improve over time. To manage heart disease, you should make several lifestyle changes both before and after the procedure, including:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing your weight
  • Participating in an exercise program
  • Making dietary changes
  • Taking medications as prescribed

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