Only a few seekers of this therapy as people are unaware of it
Enhanced External Counterpulsation is a less expensive and safer alternative to regular angioplasty surgeries. Awareness about EECP, however, is relatively low among heart patients.
“Despite the fact that the therapy requires no surgery at all, not many people know about the existence of such a therapy,” said Dr Sabir Pasha, a general physician who has given EECP therapy to patients at Renew Medical center.
EECP is a non-invasive therapy which lowers the number of angio episodes. With EECP treatment it is possible to stimulate and unclog blood vessels through natural bypass. Dr Pasha explained how the treatment works: “The treatment requires a patient to lie down and three cuffs are wrapped around the calves, thighs and buttocks. There’s a machine attached to these cuffs which constantly monitors the heart rate and saturation levels. Blockages are unclogged through natural bypass. The standard protocol is to conduct 36 sessions, each session of an hour.”
EECP therapies have shown impressive results in terms of heart health among patients who have gone through it. Syed Sameer, a 37 year old man,shared his experience with The Observer: “To be frank, this treatment is much better than getting surgeries. It is also very affordable. I had an attack in July 2021. So, I went to a private hospital and underwent a surgery which cost me a lot of money. I had three blockages and the surgery could only open one of the blockages.”
The average cost of an EECP therapy is around Rs 85,000 while an open heart surgery costs from Rs 2,90,000 to Rs 3,60,000.
When Sameerrealised that there were two more blockages that needed to be unclogged, he found out about EECP through the recommendation of a friend. “I came to know about this treatment and thought of giving it a try. Luckily, after the completion of my treatment I have no blockages left.”
However, heart surgeons do not recommend this treatment. Surgeons advocate open heart surgeries or angioplasties to recover from heart diseases. Dr Susmit Bhattacharya said: “The treatment is not very effective as far as recovery is concerned. Patients might get some symptomatic relief but it is not suitable for long-term. We don’t recommend this treatment at all.”
The main difference between an EECP therapy and angioplasty or an open heart surgery is that the former is completely non-invasive and there is no drug usage while the latter requires, even stenting (angioplasty), some amount of surgery and drug usage in the form of injections.
Prashant Bodas, now 56, underwent a heart surgery many years ago. The concept of EECP hadn’t reached India by then. However, when he got to know about the therapy he wished he had known about it during his surgery. “If I was given an option between angioplasty and EECP, I would have gone for EECP therapy based on how many sessions an angioplasty takes. If my blockages are not removed in one angioplasty sitting then I would have definitely preferred EECP. Plus, the fact that the treatment is completely non-invasive might draw more and more patients towards this treatment,” he said.
EECP is a mode treatment that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Nevertheless, awareness about the same is less among patients. One reason is that heart surgeons, who first diagnose a heart disease, don’t suggest it. On the other hand, some patients would rather go for the traditional heart surgery than going through a new and unknown treatment.
At this end, centres that offer EECP treatments promote it through digital marketing, social media as well as convince patients to give the treatment a go.