External Counter Pulsation (ECP) Therapy is a clinically approved procedure for the treatment of refractory angina (chest pain) and heart failure. ECP uses three pairs of pneumatic cuffs attached to the calves, lower and upper thighs which contract sequentially from below upwards to increase blood flow to the heart.
The contraction is timed according to the heart beat (cardiac cycle) and the blood is pumped only when the heart is relaxing after a contraction (diastole). When the heart begins its next contraction (systole), the pressure is immediately released aiding in systolic unloading. In this way, numerous collateral vessels are created forming “multiple natural bypasses” between the vessels of the heart.
Symptoms of chest pain and breathlessness are relieved and there is an improvement in exercise tolerance post ECP.
How ECP works?
I. Improves Endothelial Function: Studies have shown that ECP increases the levels of nitric oxide (NO – potent vasodilator) and decreases the levels of endothelin (vasoconstrictor) in the blood. This results in improved circulation.
II. Reduces Oxidative Stress: ECP reduces the amount of pro-inflammatory cytokines (which drive chronic inflammation) in the blood.
III. Angiogenesis: Shear stress on the blood vessels from ECP causes the formation of new blood vessels.
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