A New Treatment for Angina & Heart Failure

Is chest pain, fatigue or shortness of breath robbing you of strength and stamina? Is it difficult to climb stairs, take a walk, or enjoy daily activities?

There is a way to reduce or eliminate those symptoms, without surgery, without interventional procedures, and without going to the hospital! It’s called EECP

Angina is a common cardiac condition in which someone can experience symptoms including chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, vomiting and pain in the arms or jaws. This condition may be a result of over exertion and is common in people who have previously been diagnosed with heart problems.

Heart failure means that despite of normal venous pressure, heart is unable to maintain sufficient cardiac output to meet the demands of the body. Irrespective of the cause of heart failure, approximately 50% of patients die within two years of diagnosis from either progression of the disease or from sudden death. Both the conditions occur despite of the availability of medicines and invasive procedures (i.e. Angioplasty & Bypass surgery)

One of the newest treatments for angina and heart failure is called Enhanced External Counterpulsation, or EECP. The term Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP) describes what happens during treatment.

EECP treatment is ‘External’ because it happens outside of the body and doesn’t require surgery or other invasive procedures. ‘Enhanced’ refers to the equipment that has evolved over decades of research and development to become the state-of-the-art treatment delivery system now used in EECP treatment centers. ‘Counterpulsation’ occurs between heartbeats. EECP system pumps when the heart is resting and relieves pressure just before the heart beats. Counterpulsation increases blood flow to the heart muscle, decreases the heart’s workload, and creates greater oxygen supply while lowering oxygen demand.

EECP carries little or no risk and is administered in outpatient sessions. It is literally as easy as taking an hour’s rest. Here’s how it works:

  1. You lie comfortably on a special therapy bed.
  2. . A series of blood pressure cuffs are wrapped around your legs.
  3. You are hooked up to an EKG machine so the cuffs inflate and deflate in sync with your own heartbeat.
  4. During the heart’s resting phase, when it normally receives its supply of blood, the cuffs rapidly inflate, pushing oxygen-rich blood toward your heart.
  5. Just before your heart begins to pump again, the cuffs rapidly deflate and blood leaves your heart without the muscle having to work as hard.
  6. Each treatment is 60 minutes long, and you come for 35 treatments in total.

The body has its own solution to pain and problems caused by partly blocked arteries. When an artery is partly blocked, the body can increase the amount of blood flowing to the muscle by opening up tiny branches of nearby arteries. These networks of tiny blood vessels, known as collateral circulation, create new routes by making it possible for blood to detour around clogged arteries. EECP stimulates the body to use this natural solution. Clinical studies indicate that EECP creates a ‘natural’ bypass of obstructed vessels by promoting the development of collateral circulation. EECP encourages blood vessels to open small channels that become extra branches. These channels eventually may become permanent conduits to heart muscle previously deprived of oxygen.

EECP is a proven effective treatment and may be a preferred option for many patients. More than 100 published clinical studies on thousands of patients showed more than 80% success rate with patients experiencing significant improvement or complete end to their symptoms of heart disease. Some patients’ angina decreases so much that they are no longer candidates for other surgical procedures, such as cardiac bypass surgery or angioplasty. Others use less medication or are taken off medication completely. After receiving EECP, patients often are able to enjoy moderate exercise for the first time since they developed angina pectoris, can walk faster and farther; carry heavier packages and be more active without having chest pain, can return to work, go out to dinner, garden, travel, or enjoy their life once again; they no longer restrict their social lives, volunteer activities, or exercise because they are worried that they will cause angina. Hence EECP improves the overall quality of life. Benefits of EECP have been shown to last for at least two to three years.

EECP is particularly well-suited for those angina and heart failure patients who are not the candidates of invasive procedures (Bypass surgery and balloon angioplasty) or unwilling to undergo them, had prior bypass or angioplasty done and are again suffering from the same problem or have co-morbid conditions.

EECP is administered in outpatient sessions, carries little or no risk and relatively comfortable for patients. It is non-invasive and does not cause trauma to the patient. There has been little known risks involved with the therapy. Some patients have experienced minor skin irritation due to the pressure of the cuffs.

Once you are selected as a candidate by your treating physician, little else is required in the way of preparation. You should continue taking your medication at the regular prescribed dosages throughout the course of treatment and confer with your physician as needed. There are no known adverse effects as a result of receiving treatment with EECP.

Because each individual’s condition is unique, there is no specific time when you can expect to feel an improvement. Experience has shown however, that patients tend to report some improvement in their condition after as few as 10 or 12 treatment sessions, although others do require longer.

EECP is performed at more than 650 locations throughout the U.S as well as in other countries like Argentina, Canada, China, Columbia, France, Germany, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

In Pakistan this facility is currently available in Shifa International Hospitals.