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frequently asked




Healthy Heart

ECP is a procedure for the treatment of angina, heart failure or cardiomyopathy. It’s a non-invasive procedure that uses inflatable cuffs to compress the blood vessels of the lower limbs. Enhanced by computer technology, blood pressure monitors and electrocardiography, ECP facilitates accurate timing of the inflation and deflation of the pressure cuffs with your heartbeat and blood pressure.

Angina is a signal from your body telling you that your heart muscle is not receiving enough oxygenated blood. The heart requires an especially enriched supply of oxygen via the incoming blood flow in the coronary arteries. When the vessels that supply the heart with oxygenated blood become narrowed, the area of the heart that is not receiving the proper blood flow responds with a very painful signal called angina pectoris. Angina may feel like chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, pain in the jaw, neck, arms, back, nausea or generalized fatigue. Each patient experiences angina differently.

ECP is a non-invasive, outpatient treatment for heart disease and that is used to relieve or eliminate angina. During the treatment, blood pressure cuffs are wrapped around your legs, and squeeze and release in sync with your heartbeat, promoting blood flow throughout your body and particularly to your heart. In the process, ECP develops new pathways around blocked arteries in the heart by expanding networks of tiny blood vessels (”collaterals”) that help increase and normalize blood flow to the heart muscle. For this reason, it is often called the natural bypass.

Unlike bypass surgery, balloon angioplasty, and stenting procedures, ECP is non-invasive, simple, safe, risk-free and cost effective treatment without surgery or hospital stay. Client can take this treatment without disturbing his/her daily routine life.

The standard course of treatment is one hour per day, five days per week, for seven weeks (a total of 35 one-hour sessions) for the most effective results. Some patients have two treatments in one day in order to complete the program more quickly. It is recommended to do at least 3 times a week.

Most patients begin to experience beneficial results from ECP between their 15th and 25th day of treatment. These benefits include increased stamina, improved sleeping patterns, decreased angina, and less reliance on nitro-glycerine and other medications. There is variation, certainly, and some patients start to feel better as soon as in their first week of treatment!

You are encouraged to come for your ECP treatment every day. However, missing a day will not have a negative effect on your overall results. When you come back, you will simply pick up where you left off, and the missed treatment will be added to the end of your program until you have a total of 35 sessions. Just like exercise, the more consistent you are with your ECP schedule, the better your results will be.

Yes. In patients followed for three to five years after treatment, the benefits of ECP, including less angina, less nitro-glycerine usage, and improved blood flow patterns documented on stress tests, had lasted.

ECP treatment is similar having a set of giant blood pressure cuffs on your legs. Since the cuffs are inflated and deflated in time to your heart beat, some patients compare treatment to a rhythmic massage. Most patients listen to music read a book or even take a relaxing nap while receiving ECP treatments. Many feel alert, rested and energetic after their treatment is over.

  • Client can walk more distance without chest pain.
  • Client would have fewer or no angina.
  • Episodes of angina would be less painful.
  • Client can return to work and can participate in their active life style once again.
  • Client would be more energetic and confidence.

ECP is safe. Occasionally, some patients experience mild skin irritation under the areas of the blood pressure cuffs. Experienced ECP therapists address this irritation by using extra padding to make the client comfortable. Some clients experience a bit more fatigue at the beginning of their course of treatment, but it usually subsides after the first few sessions. In fact, clients typically feel energized by ECP.

The five-year outcomes for ECP clients are virtually the same as for angioplasty and bypass surgery patients.

Yes, When the symptoms recurs or where the results of these procedures are inadequate or for additional benefit for a better and more active lifestyle.

Data from the International ECP Patient Registry (IEPR) by the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate school of Public Health, USA suggest that the reduction in angina following ECP treatment is frequently sustained for up to 2 years post treatment. Patient follows up in many studies suggest that benefits of ECP persist for up to 5 years or more.

No. Pacemakers and internal defibrillators do not interfere in any way with ECP.

No. Patients on Coumadin / Warfarin / Acitrom are able to undergo ECP treatments safely.

No. In fact, in July 2002 the FDA approved ECP as a treatment for congestive heart failure (CHF). After completing a course of ECP treatment, patients with CHF typically have less swelling in their legs, less shortness of breath, less fatigue and often require less diuretic medication.

Yes! Most the clients have already had one (or more) of these procedures. They come for ECP treatment because they still have angina.

There are very few people who cannot have ECP. The individuals who should not be treated include pregnant women, those with a severe aneurysm (thinned & bulging vessel walls) in their aorta requiring surgical repair, and patients with active blood clots in their legs.

No. ECP has successfully treated people as young as 36 and as old as 97 without any difficulties. Many of the people are in their 70’s and 80’s and complete the entire ECP program with excellent results.

There are very few people who are unable to have ECP. Those who should not be treated include pregnant women, individuals with a severe leakage in their aortic valve requiring surgical repair and patients with an active blood clot in their leg.

No. Our bodies obey the laws of physics, and one principle law is that fluid will follow the path of least resistance. Atherosclerotic plaques are calcified and hard and they create an obstruction that diverts the blood through alternate routes. During ECP, when your blood is flowing to your heart, it will naturally bypass arteries with plaque and enter healthy, non-diseased blood vessels to go around the blockages. Going around the blockages is a longer trip, but it is a much easier one. In time, these new pathways are reinforced and become lasting routes for blood to reach your heart beyond the blockages. Every ECP patient has had multiple, serious blockages. No one has ever had a heart attack or a stroke as a result of the treatment.

Yes. Having a history of a blood clot (deep venous thrombosis or DVT) in your leg does not preclude you from having ECP. It is recommended that you have a Doppler ultrasound of your leg to confirm the blood clot has resolved before beginning the ECP program.

No. If you have hypertension that is properly managed, you may undergo ECP without difficulty. Oftentimes, patients with hypertension find that their blood pressure improves as they proceed with ECP. If your hypertension is uncontrolled, you must seek medical care to get your blood pressure under control with proper medications before proceeding with ECP.

Yes. Varicose veins are typically a cosmetic issue, not a medical one. As such, they do not preclude individuals from receiving ECP.

Yes. An irregular heartbeat, including one caused by atrial fibrillation, will not interfere with ECP if the heart rate is controlled and no faster than 100 beats per minute.

Yes, and you should! ECP improves blood flow throughout the entire body, including your legs. If you have poor leg circulation, you might need more than 35 treatments. Clients typically require at least 50 treatments to get the full benefit of the program. In addition to improved stamina, less angina, and less nitro-glycerine use, patients with PVD have a marked improvement in their leg circulation in response to ECP.

Yes. ECP is not a once-in-a-lifetime treatment. Heart disease is a chronic illness and symptoms may return at some point in the future. The door is always open for you to return for additional courses of ECP as needed.