6 Questions You Should Ask about External Counter Pulsation Therapy

By: Nicholas Hedge


Patients suffering from angina get long-term relief if they opt for external counter pulsation (ECP) therapy. Itís true that this form of treatment is effective for heart patients but ECP is not suitable for all. This is a non-invasive and outpatient procedure in which air cuffs are placed on each leg of a patient. Then, the air cuffs are inflated and deflated in between heartbeats. It is a 1-2 hour treatment which is performed every weekday for a total of 7 weeks.

Before you opt for ECP, itís important that you ask your doctor some good number of questions so that you can make an informed decision.

Is the Therapy Safe?

Yes, itís safe as you already know that the process is non-invasive and therefore lessens all possibilities of the complications associated with a bypass surgery. ECP, on the other hand, has no such complications as compared to hazardous surgeries. The success rate is pretty high and there are no major side effects, discomfort or complications. Some of the minor side effects include muscle ache and fatigue. A few patients may develop pressure sores or skin irritation as a result of the cuff inflation.

How Comfortable Is the Process?

You will experience a feeling of pressure from the air cuffs around your buttocks and legs. Once you are used to it, a session would pass quite comfortably.

What are the Benefits?

The key benefits include:

- Relief from angina.
- Participation in activities with no or little angina or heart failure warning signs.
- Positive outlook towards life.
- Improved quality of life.

How to Know If One Needs External Counter Pulsation Therapy?
The treatment is ideal for:

- Patients who are not fit for surgeries.
- People suffering from angina and who didnít respond well to medications.
- Patients whose problems were not comforted by angioplasty and bypass surgery.

Again, a patient is not suitable for ECP if he or she has one of these conditions:

- Serious or unrestrained heart failure.
- Heart rate greater than 120 beats per minute.
- BP more than 180/110 mmHg.
- Inflamed veins.
- Pulmonary disease.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Pregnancy.
- Unhealthy aortic valves.

What is the Feeling Once the Procedure is Over?

Patients who have undergone the treatment often say that it feels like passive exercising, i.e. you will feel a little tired after the process. This feeling of tiredness will last for some time and you will start gaining more energy once the temporary post-treatment effect is over.

What are the Possible Risks?

Though the success rate is 80%, some patients may feel mild headache, fatigue, dizziness or pain in the muscles. Skin irritations have also been reported, especially around the areas below the air cuffs. The feeling of tiredness last for about a week or so; thereafter it wanes. Rarely patients report breathlessness requiring doctor attention or hospitalization.

So, if you are a patient of angina and unfit for complex surgeries, consult a therapist offering external counter pulsation treatment near you who will ensure a safe and risk-free procedure. Get you BP, weight, oxygen level, heart rate, and the fluid amount in your lungs and legs checked by your doctor before the procedure.

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Nicholas Hedge is associated with cardiology treatments for years now. In this article, he has discussed about "6 Questions You Should Ask about External Counter Pulsation Therapy" after reading blogs written by experienced therapists who offer external counter pulsation treatment in Huntington Beach.

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