Enhanced External Counter Pulsation

 

Enhanced External Counter Pulsation (EECP) is a non-invasive way of assisting circulation which is rapidly coming to replace bypass surgery in many cases involving angina pectoris. It is a treatment for ischemic heart disease which improves heart function by enhancing circulation through the coronary vessels using a pressure suit which fits the lower half of the body.

"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. "External" means that treatment happens outside of the patient's body and doesn't require surgery.

The system compresses the legs from the ankles through the thighs and (optionally) buttocks sequentially by inflating three sets of flexible, fabric cuffs during the resting phase of the heart cycle (diastole). This results in the movement of blood from the legs toward the heart through both the arterial and the venous systems. Pressure is applied with the timing and duration of each pulse and is synchronized with the patient's heart beat. This transmits back pressure through the arterial system.

In other words, each wave of pressure is electronically timed to a heart beat, so that the increased blood flow is delivered to the heart at the precise moment it is relaxing. When the heart begins to contract again, pressure is released instantaneously. This lowers resistance in the blood vessels of the legs so that blood may be pumped more easily from the heart, decreasing the amount of work required of the heart muscle. During counterpulsation the EECP system pumps when the heart is resting and releases pressure when the heart is contracts.

You can find further information here: The American Heart Association Website