EECP: Non-Invasive Option for Treating Angina
By Lisa Miller, Cardiopulmonary Clinical Manager, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital
While most people are familiar with the terms “bypass surgery” and “stent placement,” not everyone has heard of “enhanced external counter pulsation” or EECP. EECP is a safe, effective treatment option for stable angina, which is characterized by agonizing spasms of chest pain or discomfort.
The severity and frequency of angina can be decreased in many people without surgery. If you have had bypass surgery or stent placement and continue to have chest discomfort, you may also benefit from EECP. People who have partially blocked arteries may have chest discomfort because of the decreased blood flow to the heart. That is where EECP can help. Studies have shown that EECP can help improve the flow of blood to the heart muscle and help create collateral circulation (accessory blood vessels).
The EECP system includes a series of cuffs around the legs that inflate and deflate in sync with the heart beat. When inflated, cuffs push oxygen-rich blood toward the heart. When cuffs deflate, blood leaves the heart without the heart having to work as hard. A course of therapy involves 35 one-hour sessions done on an outpatient basis at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital, where the latest development in EECP technology and patient comfort is available. This therapy may be ordered by your Cardiologist in conjunction with proper medication.
EECP is currently the only clinically tested and proven non-invasive outpatient procedure to relieve angina. Patients who receive EECP usually experience increased exercise tolerance, decreased angina episodes, and decreased need for anti-angina medication. They feel better overall and have more energy and less shortness of breath. The benefits of this therapy may last for years. The week of February 17th to the 23rd is National EECP Awareness Week.
Treatment with EECP is covered by Medicare and most insurance companies as a treatment for angina, and has FDA approval for angina and heart failure.