Enhanced External Counterpulsation

Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) is a treatment for chronic, stable chest pain known as angina . Angina happens when there is not enough blood and oxygen being pumped to the heart to support the work it is doing. It may also be used to treat certain people with heart failure . Cuffs, similar to blood pressure cuffs, are placed on the legs. These cuffs inflate and deflate with air to the rhythm of the heart. This helps to push blood back toward the heart, increasing blood flow. Since circulation is improved, the heart does not have to work so hard.

  • Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, call your doctor or call for medical help right away if there are signs that your angina is getting worse:

    • Severe chest pain that may feel tight or heavy
    • Shortness of breath
    • Numbness or tingling in shoulder, arm, or wrist
    • Nausea
    • Symptoms not relieved with medication

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition


    Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) is a treatment for chronic, stable chest pain known as
    angina
    . Angina happens when there is not enough blood and oxygen being pumped to the heart to support the work it is doing.

    It may also be used to treat certain people with
    heart failure
    .

    Cuffs, similar to blood pressure cuffs, are placed on the legs. These cuffs inflate and deflate with air to the rhythm of the heart. This helps to push blood back toward the heart, increasing blood flow. Since circulation is improved, the heart does not have to work so hard.

    The Cardiovascular System
    cardiosystem
    EECP pushes blood back toward the heart to reduce the heart's workload.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    You may have EECP to treat angina if:

    • Your medications are not working well enough
    • You are not a good candidate for surgery
    • Your doctor wants you to try nonmedical alternative before considering surgery
    • You have had surgery but are still having chest pain

    The benefits of EECP may include:

    • Decrease in symptoms of angina
    • Decreased need for angina medications
    • Ability to do activities, such as exercise, without angina
    • Improved heart function if a lack of oxygenated blood flow is a problem
    • Improved quality of life

  • Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

    • Chafing
    • Bruising or blisters
    • Bleeding if your blood is too thin
    • Leg or waist pain
    • Worsening of heart failure in people who have certain heart rhythm abnormalities

    You should not have EECP if you are pregnant or have any of these conditions:

    • Severe heart failure

    • Certain heart valve problems, such as significant
      aortic insufficiency
      or
      regurgitation

    • Problems with heart rhythm, called
      arrhythmias
    • High blood pressure
      you cannot control with medications
    • Blockages in the veins or arteries of your legs
    • Recent heart catheterization

    • Severe
      chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
      (COPD)
    • Aortic aneurysm
      or
      aortic dissection