M. Haseeb, MD, FACC
Cardiologist located in Mt Vernon, IL
External Counterpulsation: This noninvasive treatment option is for patients who are on medical therapy for Coronary artery disease and are still symptomatic. These patients may be complaining of limited exertion capacity, getting tired and fatigued easily, getting short of breath easily, have frequent Chest pain or have become Couch potatoes. Such patients, if they are not good candidates for stents or bypass surgery or do not want to undergo any further invasive procedures, ECP is the last hope of ray for them. This treatment involves pushing blood from the lower half of the body towards the heart by External mechanical compression of the muscles of the lower extremities. With this treatment, over a period of time , the heart can grow alternate channels of blood flow to provide more blood to the areas of the heart muscle that were previously not getting enough blood. As a result, more than 70 % of patients notice improvement in their symptoms and they start enjoying their life again!
ECP (External Counterpulsation) Q & A
What is external counterpulsation (ECP)?
This is a noninvasive method of treating heart patients without needles, surgery, or any hospital stay.
Which patients can benefit from ECP?
Patients with persistent symptoms and previous:
- Coronary stents
- Bypass surgery
- Patients with established history of coronary artery disease (blockages in the arteries of the heart) and no previous interventions
- Patients with a history of congestive heart failure
Patients who have the above conditions and are not candidates for repeat procedures or do not wish to undergo further invasive treatment modalities can benefit from ECP.
What symptoms can ECP be expected to improve?
- Shortness of breath
- Easy fatigability
- Low energy level
- Recurrent chest discomfort
What are the chances that symptoms will improve?
The majority of the patients (more than 75%) show marked improvement in functional capacity resulting in BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE!
What does treatment involve?
- Patients get the treatment laying on a special bed connected to a computer that monitors the heartbeat of the patient
- Following each contraction of the heart (while the heart is waiting for another contraction) the blood from the calves, thighs, and hips is squeezed towards the heart with the assistance of pressure cuffs (like the blood pressure cuffs)
How does ECP work?
- Squeezing and pushing the blood towards the heart during its resting phase, resulting in more blood flow towards the heart muscle
- Areas of the heart muscle that are deprived of blood flow now start getting more blood
- Over a period of time, the increased blood flow can potentially create new channels of alternate routes of blood flow called “collateral circulation”
- More Blood flow to the heart means more oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle
Is ECP an experimental treatment?
No! ECP has been scientifically proven by many clinical studies to show improvement in the circulation to the heart that can result in improvement in the strength of the weak heart muscle.
Is it FDA approved?
Is it covered by insurance companies?
Yes, it is covered by Medicare and most insurance carriers.
If you are a heart patient and have become a couch potato, consider ECP! Learn more by calling Mt. Vernon Heart Institute, or requesting an appointment online.