If you’re suffering from chest pain, known as angina, there is an innovative, nonsurgical treatment option called EECP, or Enhanced External Counter Pulsation. As part of American Heart month, this week – Feb. 18-22 – is recognized as National EECP Week, making it an opportune time to learn how EECP therapy can relieve angina.

Nearly 10-million Americans suffer from angina, and another half-million develop the heart condition each year. Angina occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood and oxygen. Sometimes, heart medications or surgery do not work to relieve the discomfort, and some patients are not candidates for bypass surgery or stenting. EECP may be an option.

How does EECP work?

This non-invasive therapy works to improve blood flow to the heart overtime by effectively “pumping” blood into the coronary arteries through pneumatic cuffs placed on a patient’s legs. A telemetry monitor allows the cuffs to inflate and deflate based on the patient’s heart rhythm, pumping blood into the coronary arteries.

What is the EECP treatment program?

No hospital stay is required for EECP. Instead, patients undergo 35 one-hour sessions as an outpatient.

The Center for Fitness and Health at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center offers the only hospital-based EECP program in MontgomeryCounty. At our EECP Center, a team of cardiologists, nurses, exercise physiologists and dietitians monitors each patient throughout the course of therapy.

EECP is accepted by most insurance, including Medicare.

Who is a candidate for EECP?

  • Patients with angina and/or heart failure
  • Patients for whom heart medications are no longer effective
  • Patients for whom surgery did not work or is not an option
  • Patients with no vascular health concerns

What are the benefits of EECP?

Studies supported by the American Heart Association have established EECP therapy:

  • Relieves angina (chest pain)
  • Reduces shortness of breath and fatigue
  • Relieves heart failure symptoms up to 5 years
  • Reduces need for some heart medications
  • Boosts energy
  • Improves quality of life

Meet one patient at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center who has benefited from EECP.