What Is Enhanced External Counterpulsation?


Quick Answer

Enhanced external counterpulsation is a non-invasive treatment for relieving persistent symptoms in patients with angina, according to the Cleveland Clinic. During an enhanced external counterpulsation procedure, the patient is connected to an electrocardiograph machine and to cuffs that are connected to valves, which inflate and deflate rapidly.

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Full Answer

Cuffs attached to the calves, thighs and buttock of the patient inflate and deflate with the heartbeat and blood pressure, monitored using the electrocardiograph machine, informs the Cleveland Clinic. When the heart relaxes, the cuffs inflate, sending an increased blood flow to the heart. When the heart pumps again, the cuffs deflate, releasing the pressure. Enhanced external counterpulsation may also help open small pathways in blood vessels, which also increases blood flow to the heart muscle, essentially providing relief for symptoms of angina.

Patients typically receive a total 35 hours of enhanced external counterpulsation treatment in one- to two-hour increments at a time over a period of seven weeks, according to Cleveland Clinic. Patients who have chronic stable angina, who are unable to qualify for invasive procedures such as angioplasty, or who are not getting relief from medicine may benefit from enhanced external counterpulsation. The treatment results in less of a need for medication, a decrease in symptoms, and an increase in the amount of time a patient may perform certain activities longer without experiencing symptoms.

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