When George Riley realized the therapy he sought for his angina wasn’t available anywhere near Farmington Hills, he was inspired to act. He donated all the funds Botsford Hospital needed to purchase enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) therapy equipment.
Now Riley’s generosity promises to become a gift to many others. That’s because EECP could help a significant number of cardiac patients in the Detroit area, according to David P. Gowman, D.O., chief of cardiology at Botsford.
How EECP helps a hardworking heart
Angina—the pain or discomfort associated with cardiac disease—occurs when not enough oxygen-rich blood is reaching the heart. Because it’s often brought on by exertion, angina can diminish life’s pleasures, from exercising to doing basic daily tasks.
According to Dr. Gowman, EECP reduces angina by increasing the amount of blood to the coronary arteries. To receive EECP, the patient lies on a table with three air cuffs around each leg. Each time the heart relaxes between beats, the cuffs inflate. "This pressure squeezes blood back toward the coronary arteries," says Dr. Gowman. "And each time the heart beats, the cuffs deflate, easing the heart’s workload."
EECP consists of 35 one-hour outpatient treatments over the course of seven weeks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved therapy is effective up to 80 percent of the time, with benefits that can last as long as three years. And, along with reduced pain, patients have reported:
"It made me feel much more energetic, and the effects have really lasted," says Riley, donor and EECP patient.
Who can get EECP?
EECP isn't right for everyone, including people with arrhythmia or those on blood thinners or with blood clots in the leg. But Dr. Gowman urges patients to ask their cardiologists about EECP. "For people resistant to angina medications and those who can't have—or don’t want—invasive treatments like balloon angioplasty or bypass surgery, EECP can enhance their quality of life," he says. "It's safe and it’s noninvasive. It's not a cure, but it helps people stay active and independent longer."
Is EECP right for me?
EECP is covered by Medicare and most
insurance plans. Click here to learn
more about EECP.