EECP™ Therapy (acronym for Enhanced External Counterpulsation) is an effective non invasive treatment proven to reduce symptoms of angina from Coronary Artery Disease. EECP™ Therapy is a trademarked term to distinguish the Vasomedical brand of External Counterpulsation Therapy as ‘Enhanced’ External Counterpulsation Therapy.
EECP Therapy is a treatment that can be described as a mechanical process that acts as a circulatory assist device performed outside the body. EECP Therapy is proven in many published clinical studies to stimulate growth of new vessels (also known as collateralization) around narrowed and blocked arteries of the heart. EECP Therapy develops these new paths by inflating air in a series of cuffs around the calfs, thighs and the buttocks area. The mechancial process is precisely timed on the patients ECG (heart rate) to provide mechanical assistance to return oxygenated blood to the heart (during the resting phase of the cardiac cycle. This process restores blood flow to areas of the heart that can cause pain due to the lack of oxygenated blood flow.
Is EECP Therapy Different from ECP Therapy?
The only notable difference is ‘EECP’ represents the brand of the ECP Therapy company Vasomedical. Other than that, EECP Therapy and External Counterpulsation (ECP Therapy) are the same non-invasive treatment procedure used to improve symptoms in patients that suffer from symptoms of Stable Ischemic Coronary Artery Disease or Angina. There is no functional difference in the process or potential outcomes between EECP and ECP. In fact, both EECP and ECP Therapy are the exact same in process in that it consists of a series of cuff securely wrapped around the calves, thighs and the buttocks which inflate in a systematic sequential order. EECP & ECP Therapy devices both have regulatory approved from the FDA and covered in the U.S by Medicare and private insurance.
Are the Clinical Benefits of EECP Therapy better than ECP Therapy?
Every now & then, you will still here someone say that ‘EECP’ and ‘ECP’ are different treatment procedures. As indicated above, that is blatantly false. Both ECP and EECP Therapy deliver equally effective treatment given the same treatment variables. Most medical professionals in the industry know that ECP and EECP utilize the same process which inflates a series of blood pressure-type cuffs starting at the calves, thighs and lastly inflates the buttocks. Both EECP and ECP Therapy procedures are capable of achieving the same optimal results if treatment variables are comparable.
To analyze this subject further, one must understand that the process of External Counterpulsation Therapy. ECP and EECP is not a complicated procedure by any means. In fact, this technology has been around since the 1960 with intra-aortic baloon pumps. The process of ECP and EECP therapy is inflating specific level of pressure at a specific time which is gated (timed) on the patient’s heart rate. All ECP and EECP systems (in the U.S) must perform virtually identically and achieve the same results (or greater) in order for the FDA to grant marketing and & safety clearance for a Class IIb medical device. It is U.S law that all medical devices obtain FDA approval by documenting that they are ‘substantially equivalent’ in terms of process, operation, outcomes and patient safety. That means all devices whether they are EECP or ECP can inflate with the same amount of pressure, at the same time making EECP and ECP virtually the same in terms of the actual treatment.
What factors really determine Patient Outcomes of EECP Therapy and ECP Therapy?
As we just discussed, the squeezing mechanism of EECP and ECP Therapy are exactly identical in process but it is the actual delivery (outcome) of the pressure & timing during treatment that is the differentiating factor. There are the obvious physiological variables from patient to patient, but if all other variables were constant, the only real factors of patient outcomes is pressure, and exact timing of that pressure over the course of the 35 treatments.
All the evidence (and physics) indicate that there is a correlation between the level of pressure squeezed and the amount of blood delivered back to the heart (during the diastolic phase of the heart cycle) that makes the REAL difference in patient outcomes. If this process is optimized with high level of pressures, most patients will see an increase strength & performance over the course of their ECP treatment. Remember, one of the distinct benefits of ECP and EECP Therapy compared to other treatment options is the mechanism of action physically restores the flow of oxygenated blood to starved areas (ischemic regions) of the heart that have slowly deteriorated over time. The squeeze (or force) over time (stimulates growth) creating more volume of flow to areas in need.
Medical professionals know that once medical technology is proven over time, new model products that operate and perform to the exacts same standards of operation, safety & performance, are not required to publish a clinical research trial to validate each the same modality. These regulations are in place (in the U.S) by the FDA and not enforced by one particular company trying to sell more of their devices.
As indicated above, EECP is a common term because Vasomedical Inc is the company that has sponsored the majority of the clinical trials performed with their EECP systems. The purpose of these studies was in part to distinguish their EECP products from ECP product but more importantly these trials were performed to demonstrate the effectiveness External Counterpulsation treatment to attain reimbursement coverage for patients in need of treatment. It is factual that most of the clinical work done in the early angina trials were performed on older model EECP systems (MC-2, TS-3) that are no longer in use (or manufactured). The newer units delivered by the same company today are NOT the same units used in the early clinical trials for Angina therefore disproving the argument that other devices used in those trials are not ‘clnically validated’. To go a step further, these early model EECP units (by Vasomedical) actually had their initial FDA approvals (510k ‘substantially equivalent’) to the earlier devices from another ECP company (Cardiomedics) devices. With all this being the factual reality, how can this claim to be the only ‘clinically validated’ devices be logical? The bottom line again, is that all ECP and EECP devices provide benefits when used properly on the appropriate patient
Why is ECP and EECP Therapy so underutilized in the U.S?
Even when you combine all EECP and ECP Treatment centers across the U.S, more than 75% of all angina patients remain unaware of External Counterpulsation Therapy. Experts say that EECP therapy is dramatically under utilized in the US with less than 30% of cardiology clinics offering treatment for their patients. Why is that when other countries use EECP therapy for such a large variety of vascular and circulatory disorders such as Peripheral Vascular disease, stroke, erectile dysfunction, macular degeneration? Nobody really knows the answer but most of us all agree that it still has great growth potential due to its safe, effective, non-surgical option with a substantially lower cost to Medicare and Insurance companies A great fit for the evolving trends in healthcare centered on low cost, non surgical procedures with great outcomes.
EECP Therapy continues to demonstrate a reduction in hospital admission and re-admission rates in patients with chronic Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) and patients with Congestive Heart Failure. As those in U.S know, current healthcare trends are (aggressively) evolving towards low cost, non-invasive solutions making ECP therapy (again) a hot topic in Cardiology. For more information about the effectiveness of ECP, please visit EECP & ECP Patient Information Guide.
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Benefits ECP Therapy
External Counterpulsation Therapy (ECP) is a safe, non-invasive treatment that delivers powerful clinical outcomes for patients with a variety of medical conditions.