Are You a Candidate for EECP Therapy?

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health
Last Reviewed 03/28/2014

Since 1992, more than 150 research articles have documented that EECP therapy does indeed work, and is particularly effective if you have far-advanced coronary artery disease and limited treatment options. I continue to be impressed that my EECP therapy patients report their angina symptoms to be lessened and their ability to tolerate physical activity improved as a result.  

Are You a Candidate for EECP Therapy? Therefore, I continue to recommend EECP in the certain situations.

Conditions EECP Therapy Is Good for

  • For refractory symptoms of angina pectoris that has not responded to medication and metabolic cardiology.
  • If your arteries are so blocked that angioplasty (PTCA) or coronary artery bypass surgery (CABS or CABG) aren’t options.
  • If your coronary anatomy failed to improve following PTCA or CABS as expected.
  • If your coronary vessels have re-blocked years after surgical interventions.
  • For those looking for an alternative to PTCA and CAB.S

Your faith may be a factor in EECP therapy as well. Fifty-year-old “Bud” elected to try EECP therapy, even though he was fit for surgery. His angina symptoms warranted CABS but, as a Christian Scientist, it was Bud’s intention to avoid surgical procedures if at all possible. 

After a round of EECP treatments in a hospital participating in EECP research, both Bud and I were elated that his symptoms waned, and his activity level and quality of life greatly improved.

Who’s NOT a Candidate for EECP Therapy?

Since EECP therapy has minimal side effects and is extremely safe, it’s considered a reasonable alternative if you have angina due to advanced coronary artery disease, yet have “no place to go.”  

Nonetheless, there are relative contraindications to the procedure and cases where EECP therapy cannot be employed.

  • Ventricular aneurysm
  • Uncontrolled arrhythmias, particularly atrial fibrillation or multiple premature ventricular ectopic beats
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure levels
  • Coumadin or other anticoagulation therapy
  • Aortic valve regurgitation
  • Thrombophlebitis or bloods clots
  • Peripheral vascular disease in the legs or previous leg amputations
  • Pregnancy or immediately following cardiac catheterization or bypass surgery 

After two prior coronary artery bypass surgeries, “Ben” wasn’t a candidate for a third, despite his problems with angina and congestive heart failure.  At the end of the road in terms of traditional treatments, I suggested he try EECP therapy.  

Unfortunately, Ben’s premature ventricular ectopic beats (PVCs) were so frequent that timing the equipment was a nightmare. Despite the staff’s best efforts, the machine alarms continued beeping until they had to surrender and give up.

EECP therapy is a worthwhile treatment if you are a candidate. Ask your cardiologist if you think it might help you. 

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