Enhanced External Counterpulsation Therapy


Enhanced External Counterpulsation Therapy

What is EECP?

EECP therapy is an outpatient treatment for angina and heart failure. During this noninvasive procedure, inflatable bags are wrapped around the legs (like a blood pressure cuff around the arm) and inflated and deflated in rhythm with your heartbeat. This treatment may be able to decrease the symptoms of angina and improve oxygen flow.

How is it done?

Treatments are usually for one hour each day, five days a week, up to seven weeks, for a total of 35 hours. During the treatment, you will lie on a comfortable table with large blood pressure-like cuffs wrapped around your legs and buttocks. These cuffs inflate at specific times between your heartbeat.

A continuous electrocardiogram is used to set the timing. A special sensor applied to your finger checks the oxygen level in your blood and monitors the pressure waves created as the cuff inflates and deflates.

How does EECP therapy relieve the symptoms of angina?

EECP therapy increases the blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscle and decreases the amount of work the heart has to do to pump blood to the rest of the body.

While the heart is at rest, the treatment cuffs inflate from the calves to the thighs to the buttocks, which increases the blood supply to the arteries feeding the heart muscle. Just before the next heartbeat, all the cuffs deflate at the same time, which decreases the amount of work the heart has to do.

What are the benefits of EECP therapy?

Most people experience positive results, such as having no angina or angina that is less frequent and less intense; more energy; ability to take part in more activities of daily living; a better quality of life; and a more positive outlook.

How do I know if I am a candidate for EECP?

Your physician will examine you and review your medical history to determine whether you are a candidate for EECP therapy. You may be a candidate if:

  • You have angina and/or heart failure
  • Your heart medications no longer relieve your angina or heart symptoms
  • You have had open heart (bypass) surgery, balloon angioplasty or stent, or other invasive procedures and your symptoms have returned
  • You have been told you cannot have another bypass surgery, balloon angioplasty or stent, or other invasive procedures
  • You have chosen not to have any further surgery, angioplasties, or invasive procedures
  • You do not have any other medical conditions that may prevent you from having EECP therapy

What are the risks of EECP therapy?

Occasionally, patients develop mild skin irritation in the areas under the treatment cuffs, or experience muscle or joint discomfort.

Some patients feel tired after the first few treatments, but this usually ends after the first week. Rarely, patients develop shortness of breath requiring hospitalization and treatment. Your EECP therapist is trained to make your treatments safe and to minimize risk.

Does insurance cover EECP therapy?

Yes. Medicare covers EECP treatments for patients who meet Medicare criteria. Most private insurance companies have coverage polices similar to Medicare.

Heart Services Are Nearby

If you have any symptoms of heart attack or stroke, call 911. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. EMTs can begin life-saving care immediately before you reach the hospital.

For more information, contact your primary care provider or Traverse Heart and Vascular at 800-637-4033.