External counterpulsation (ECP) is a noninvasive technique to increase oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart and to reduce the heart’s workload. ECP decreases the afterload that the heart has to pump against, and increases the preload that fills the heart, thereby increasing the cardiac output. Since it increases pressure in the aorta while the heart is relaxing (during diastole), ECP also increases blood flow into the coronary arteries, which also occurs during that phase.legs and are inflated in sequences as the heart goes through its regular movements.
The technique scientifically lowers the blood pressure the heart pumps against. It also increases the return rate of blood to the heart which increases blood pressure while the heart is resting. The great thing is that this therapy does not require any type of anesthesia. It is an a natural way to assist your heart to perform it’s normal duties. ECP also improves the balance between the amount of oxygen the heart needs and the amount it gets. Both these changes reduce the pain of angina, increase level of exercise and decrease the need for medication.
Method of Operation
It is performed over a series of several weeks, with each session lasting an hour. Three pressure cuffs, which look like blood pressure cuffs, are placed around the calves, lower thighs, and the upper thighs (or buttock). The cuffs are timed to inflate and deflate based on the individual’s electrocardiogram. The inflate at the beginning of diastole (relaxing) and deflate at the beginning of systole (pumping). During the inflation portion of the cycle, the calf cuffs inflate first, then the lower thigh cuffs and finally the upper thigh cuffs. As a result, the vessels and capillary beds in the legs are gently compressed and the blood is forced back to the heart. Inflation is controlled by a pressure monitor.
Indications for Use
It’s used to decrease pain from angina pectoris which is essentially chest pain or discomfort. This happens when the heart muscles do not get enough blood and oxygen for the amount of work it’s performing. In addition it should be used when:
- Relieve the symptoms of coronary artery disease
- Lower the risk of a heart attack
- Bad chest pains because of angina
- Reduce the intensity and frequency of angina
- Reduce or replace the need for medication.
External Counterpulsation ECP Devices
Nucardio Heart Center only offers the best ECP devices which is why we use the CardiAssist ™ ECP System offered by Cardiomedics ®. The system improves cardiac function by enhancing perfusion of the coronary vasculature, using a mechanism similar to the intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP). The CardiAssist ™ System consists of a portable control console containing pumps and valves. Reusable fabric cuffs, containing inflatable plastic bladders, are fastened with Velcro ® about the patient’s calves, thighs and buttocks. The cuffs are sequentially inflated (first the calves, then the thighs and finally the buttocks) during diastole (when the heart is momentarily at rest between beats), synchronized with the patient’s electrocardiogram or ECG. Compression of the cuffs during diastole forces blood from the legs and buttocks up to the heart, reducing the work effort of the heart and increasing the flow of blood through the coronary arteries to the heart muscle.