New Treatment Instead of Surgery for Heart Patients - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/10/03

New Treatment Instead of Surgery for Heart Patients

Here's something new for heart patients with artery disease that is very strange. It's called EECP and after three years of study, some cardiologists are using it now as an alternative to bypass surgery and balloon angioplasty.

EECP is a one hour treatment per day, five days a week for seven weeks. Cuffs are wrapped around the patient from the calves to the thighs. Then, a sophisticated computer inflates and deflates the cuffs in exact synchronization with the heartbeat, applying pressure on the vessels in the lower extremities. Lynette says she feels no pain but is bounced around a bit.

"It's bouncy, it's hard to talk and it also makes the machine crazier. It goes faster because my heart is pumping faster," says Lynette Bertocchini, a heart patient.

"We know it is increasing the flow and pressure in the coronary arteries as well as all the other arteries to the other organs," says Ruth Smith, M.D., a Cardiologist at the University of Utah.

Doctor Ruth Smith says that increased blood flow appears to stimulate smaller vessels to grow and actually bypass the clogged artery. This is just her 14th treatment out of 35, but Lynette says she can feel the difference. "I get up the stairs and I can keep going. I don't have to stop and rest. So there is a change, there is a difference and it's a good feeling," says Dr. Smith.

Doctor Smith says cardiologists have been a little reluctant and cautious about using this, but it is FDA approved therapy. We'll keep you posted if it comes to Lubbock.

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