Invented in Boston in the late 1960s, ECP was effective in treating cardiogenic shock, or severe heart failure due to heart muscle damage, a condition that was otherwise almost uniformly fatal. The technique was cumbersome, and fell out of favor while more intricate and expensive procedures such as cardiac bypass surgery came into use. Researchers in mainland China during the 1980s improved the technology and effectively treated patients with heart disease and stroke.
In 1990 a brilliant physiologist named Dr. John Hui brought the technology back into the United States, and persuaded physicians at Stony Brook Hospital in New York to begin research. ECP proved so effective in reducing angina symptoms that the FDA approved it for the treatment of stable angina. Many insurance companies, including Medicare, now reimburse for treatment.
ECP may be covered by Medicare or private insurance for specific diagnoses. As a courtesy to our patients, we will bill ECP treatments to insurance for patients with appropriate diagnoses.
ECP is an excellent therapy for heart disease. It creates collateral circulation in the heart, relieves chest pain and improves heart muscle function in heart failure. It also improves circulation throughout the body, including the brain and kidneys. ECP helps recovery from stroke. It is a major anti-aging treatment.
Today, ECP (also known as EECP for Enhanced External Counterpulsation) is also approved by the FDA to treat congestive heart failure, which is responsible for the greatest number of hospitalizations in our country.
How it works
ECP is completely noninvasive and requires no anesthesia or recovery time. A set of inflatable cuffs is placed around the legs and pelvis. The cuffs are sequentially inflated from the bottom up, under high pressure. This causes the arteries and veins in the lower extremities to collapse and forces the blood upwards toward the heart. A wave of pressure then proceeds into the heart and into the coronary arteries. The result is a significant increase in cardiac blood flow. After a series of treatments, usually 35, lasting one hour each, collateral blood vessels develop around the heart, creating a natural bypass around the occluded vessels. Statistics show the response rate for patients suffering from angina is around 80 percent, with none of the risks of open-heart surgery or angioplasty.
People who complete a series of ECP treatments often have fewer episodes of angina, reduce or eliminate their need for anti-angina medications, have greater exercise tolerance and improved endurance and have a greatly improved overall quality of life.
ECP treatment is similar to having a set of giant blood pressure cuffs on your legs. Since the cuffs are inflated and deflated in time to your heart beat, some patients compare treatment to a rhythmic massage. Most patients listen to music, read a book or even take a relaxing nap while receiving ECP treatments. Many feel alert, rested and energetic after their treatment is over.
Because it boosts circulation throughout the body, external counterpulsation is a general panacea. It is perhaps the most potent antiaging therapy. There are numerous other benefits, since having counterpulsation is like adding a second heart to the body. Increased blood flow occurs in the brain, kidneys, intestines, and all other parts of the body. Complex hormonal interactions are stimulated, resulting in improved kidney functions, lowering of blood pressure, increased energy, endurance, and sense of well being. Patients with stroke have experienced much quicker improvement than would otherwise occur. It should be considered in any program to support individual wellbeing.
There are numerous other benefits, since having counterpulsation is like adding a second heart to the body. Increased blood flow occurs in the brain, kidneys, intestines, and all other parts of the body. Complex hormonal interactions are stimulated, resulting in improved kidney function, lowering of blood pressure, increased energy, endurance, and sense of wellbeing.
Patients with stroke have experienced much quicker improvement than would otherwise occur.
Medications used for treating chest pain as well as high blood pressure may be reduced and sometimes completely eliminated. ECP is also effective in boosting athletic performance, providing a complete, passive cardiovascular workout, reducing lactic acid buildup and increasing blood and lymph flow in muscles.
Investigate ECP for improvement in any of the following area:
Cardiac chest pain
Congestive heart failure
High blood pressure
Peripheral neuropathy, especially from diabetes
Peripheral vascular disease
Edema, or venous insufficiency
Intestinal vascular insufficiency
Improvement of athletic performance