Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP) Therapy is creating a buzz worldwide. While patients have recovered from Covid 19, many acutely infected continue to report persisting symptoms and fatigue. As per the recent study by ACC (The American College of Cardiology), EECP is being offered as a potential treatment option for long COVID Patients.
EECP is a non-invasive technique that researchers are evaluating as the most sought-after therapy to improve cerebral and cardiac perfusion. This therapy has been validated clinically, and the results showed considerable improvement in patients having long-COVID cardiovascular symptoms. The findings were presented at The American College of Cardiology Cardiovascular Summit Virtual (CV Summit), held on February 17-19, 2022.
EECP therapy has proved to be a boon
- For patients who want to avoid angioplasty or bypass surgery
- For patients who have undergone angioplasty or bypass, and want to avoid a reoccurrence
- For cardiac patients to reduce the symptoms of chest pain or breathlessness
- For patients who are prone to heart failure (low pumping heart)
- For patients who suffered from long COVID
How does EECP therapy work?
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved EECP for the management of refractory angina. This therapy works by applying pressure to blood vessels in the lower limbs.
External counterpulsation (ECP) is noninvasive and uses three sets of pneumatic external compressive cuffs on the calves, thighs, and lower hip area. The cuffs are sequentially inflated from distal to proximal. The cuff ends are synchronised with the cardiac cycle detected by an electrocardiogram (ECG).
The cuffs are inflated in early diastole to boost coronary artery perfusion and venous return. Cuffs are then deflated in systole to reduce systemic vascular resistance and cardiac function and improve systemic perfusion.
Benefits of EECP therapy
- Increased diastolic aortic pressure
- Augmented coronary blood flow
- Increased central venous return
- Improved anginal symptoms and exercise tolerance
- Reduced nitroglycerin in patients with chronic angina
- Effective heart pump with increased blood flow
- Eased COVID symptoms
What happens during EECP Therapy?
The patients undergoing EECP treatment lay on a treatment table fitted with three pneumatic cuffs. A 3-lead electrocardiogram is used for the cuff mechanism that inflates sequentially. The inflation starts from the calves up to the hips during the resting phase of the heart.
At the onset of the contraction phase of the heart, the cuffs deflate at the same time. This prescribed inflation and deflation pushes oxygen-rich blood throughout the heart muscle and the rest of the body. The treatment session for a patient lasts for one hour, with a total of 35 sessions spread over seven weeks.
Results of EECP Therapy
The patients who suffered acute COVID infection still face symptoms like fatigue, breathing difficulties, and chest discomfort. However, after taking EECP therapy, there have noticed considerable results in symptoms in patients with and without coronary artery disease.
Patients observed improved endothelial function. The endothelium helps control blood fluidity, platelet aggregation, and vascular tone, thereby regulating the immune system, metabolism, inflammation, and angiogenesis.
Patients showed improvement in ‘brain fog,’ and were able to successfully return to work after undergoing treatment.
EECP therapy is a validated tool accepted by the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM).