Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP) for Heart Problems

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Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP) for Heart Problems

Topic Overview

Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) might be used to treat someone who has ongoing chest pain (chronic angina) who does not qualify for other treatment methods, such as angioplasty or surgery. Also, it is sometimes used to treat heart failure. EECP is used at some large medical centres, but it is not widely available.

During EECP, pressure cuffs (like large blood pressure cuffs) inflate and deflate around your calves, thighs, and buttocks. The cuffs squeeze the blood from your lower body toward your heart. In turn, this increases the amount of blood and oxygen going into your coronary arteries and decreases pain from angina. Meanwhile, your blood pressure and heart rhythm are closely monitored. Usually, you will receive this treatment for 1 to 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 7 weeks.

Although it has not been proved, EECP may encourage the development of collateral blood vessels. These small blood vessels can create new channels for blood to bypass narrowed or blocked arteries.

But EECP has some drawbacks. Many people are not candidates, and the treatment can be time-consuming and uncomfortable.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Last Revised October 14, 2010

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