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Enhanced External Counterpulsation: A Non-invasive, painless therapy for Heart Patients

What is EECP Heart Treatment?

“What is EECP heart treatment?” is a question every EECP treatment centre is asked over and over again. EECP stands for Enhanced External Counter Pulsation Therapy. It is an FDA approved treatment meant for cardiac patients. EECP helps to increase the blood supply to the heart muscles by increasing the collateral network of blood vessels.

EECP is a registered trademark of Vasomedical USA.

EECP is a completely non-invasive and painless therapy. It involves no scars, cuts or wounds. It generally involves a standard 35 days of treatment. Each of the 35 treatment sessions lasts for one hour and the patient is required to undertake sessions for six days a week for six weeks.

It is very important that the patient adhere to the one-hour time schedule fixed up by the Hospital or Medical Centre. EECP is an outpatient, day-care based procedure where the patient visits the clinic for the session and leaves.

 

In an EECP treatment session, the patient lies down comfortably on a special padded table. Three large inflatable cuffs similar to blood pressure cuffs, are strapped around the calves, lower thighs, upper thighs and buttocks.

During each session, a computer regulates a sequential inflation and deflation of the cuffs, and the patient's heart is monitored by an electrocardiograph display in a special machine. The inflation and deflation is timed with the ECG, and must be constantly monitored and supervised by trained EECP technicians. The graph showing the progress of the treatment must be monitored by a cardiologist. At the end of the EECP treatment, the patient generally experiences improvement in symptoms of chest pain, angina and breathlessness.

Who Should Avail of EECP Treatment (Enhanced External Counterpulsation Treatment)?

EECP treatment is an evidence-based and US FDA approved treatment in the following groups of cardiac patients:

  1. Patients who have already undergone a bypass surgery or an angioplasty and repeat procedures are not possible.
  2. Patients who have been advised surgeries but are at very high risk and their heart pumping is low. EECP treatment can benefit them, making them fitter to undergo surgeries.
  3. Patients who are mentally not prepared to undergo the surgeries or they are stable with medical management.

EECP Treatment for Heart Failure and Congestive Heart Failure Treatment

EECP treatment is US FDA approved for use in cardiac failure – that is where the pumping of the heart’s muscles is low. In order to understand the benefits that can be seen with EECP treatment for heart failure and congestive heart failure patients, let us understand what these conditions are.

When the heart’s pumping capacity is weaker than normal, the condition is referred to as heart failure. In the case of heart failure, blood moves through the heart and around the person’s body at a slower rate. Since the heart is not able to pump enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body's needs, the chambers of the heart often respond by stretching to hold more blood to pump through the body, or by stiffening and thickening. This causes the heart muscle walls to weaken further.

Often, as a result of heart failure, the kidneys respond by causing the body to retain water and salt. If fluid builds up in the arms, legs, ankles, feet, lungs, or other organs, the body becomes congested. This condition is referred to as congestive heart failure.

Heart failure can be caused by a number of conditions that damage the heart muscle. These include: Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) – disease of the main arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart including blockages and narrowing; Heart Attack – When blood flow to the heart suddenly stops, resulting in a scarred area in the heart that does not function properly; Cardiomyopathy – Damage to the heart muscle from causes other than artery or blood flow problems; Other conditions like hypertension, heart valve disease, thyroid disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or congenital heart defects.

While there are certain definite contraindications for EECP treatment like valve disease and some others, most patients with heart failure can go in for EECP treatment. Selection must be however done, on a case-by-case basis, and follow proper medical management to ensure that certain conditions are stable first.

There is an abundance of documented evidence about the fact that EECP treatment for heart failure patients and congestive heart failure treatment patients shows an increase in ejection fraction (the pumping capacity of the heart). IPC Heart Care (Institute of Preventive Cardiology) has treated thousands of patients with pumping capacity as low as 15-20%, and seen improvements in the ejection fraction if there is viability in myocardium.

IPC was one of the first heart centres to offer EECP treatment in India. It has multiple centres for EECP treatment in Mumbai, and in other places across India. IPC’s Dr. Pratiksha was instrumental in setting up the Indian EECP Patients Registry, which makes it mandatory for all data regarding EECP patients to be registered with them. Dr. Pratiksha also represents Western and Eastern India in the Expert EECP / ECP Committee.

IPC has a unique live on-line monitoring facility for EECP sessions, whereby doctors can monitor their patients’ EECP treatment sessions even as they are in progress.

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