Enhanced External Counterpulsation Therapy: Significant Clinical Improvement without Electrophysiologic Remodeling

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Abstract

Background

Enhanced external counterpulsation therapy (EECP), in addition to improving coronary flow and increasing the time to ischemia, noninvasively alters hemodynamics in patients with severe coronary artery disease (CAD). Other treatments that alter hemodynamics, for example, balloon valvuloplasty, left ventricular assist devices, and pharmacologic antagonism of the rennin–angiotensin system, promote electrophysiologic remodeling, as evidenced by alterations in the QT interval.

Methods

We studied 28 patients who completed a 7-week, 35-hour session of EECP to assess whether such therapy would also result in electrophysiologic remodeling.

Results

All patients had class II–III angina, imaging-proven ischemia, and severe, near-inoperable CAD. Of 28 patients, with a mean age 62 ± 13 years (mean ± SD), 78% were male, 46% diabetic, 82% hypertensive, 60% had undergone angioplasty, and 67% had undergone bypass surgery. The mean ejection fraction was 44% (range 25–60%). Following EECP, most patients (82%) had at least a one full class improvement in their anginal pattern. In most patients, there was substantial baseline conduction system disease present: a mean QRS of 105 ± 19 ms. It is to be noted that there was no significant change in heart rate (HR), PR, QRS, or QTc intervals before and after EECP in either clinical responders or nonresponders. When analyzed by response to EECP, ejection fraction, or history of revascularization, there were still no detectable changes in ECG parameters (all P = NS).

Conclusions

While EECP remains an effective treatment for severe CAD, it does not prompt early electrical remodeling of the heart.

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