EECP - Treatment of Angina Pain
What is angina pain?
Angina pain is felt when the heart muscle does not receive as much blood and oxygen as it needs to cope with its workload. This is often felt as a pain or tightness in the chest region and can also cause breathlessness, pins and needles or tiredness. These feelings are often worse during walking or exercise due to the increased demand placed on the heart. If these symptoms are new or persistent they must be investigated urgently. After diagnosis and starting medication some patients suffer ongoing pains. This may place limitations on their lifestyle, ability to work and even live independently.
Risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure have been shown to be of significance in the development of angina with the formation of fatty deposits (a process known as atherosclerosis) that narrow blood vessels. There is also increasing evidence that heart disease is highly associated with inflammation of the arteries over long periods and with poor function of the cells lining the blood vessels (known as endothelium), which prevents arteries opening and closing efficiently during exercise demands.
How is angina usually treated?
Ongoing angina is usually treated using a series of medications. These aim to reduce further risk factors and slow the heart rate. An angiogram may be performed to look for blockages in the main arteries of the heart, and some patients receive benefit from the use of a special balloon (angioplasty), stent or open heart surgery to bypass areas of blockage.
Unfortunately angina pains can recur or remain problematic despite medication and surgical procedures. Some patients have medical problems and are deemed too high-risk or feel very reluctant for such procedures. Others may have specific blockages that make surgical intervention unlikely to be of benefit.
There is also a further kind of angina, called microvascular angina which does not show the classical pattern of significantly blocked arteries and can be difficult to diagnose, yet causes limitation in the heart’s circulation and the same angina symptoms. This is caused by many of the small arteries in the heart failing to open and close effectively as the metabolic demand of the heart requires. Unfortunately this kind of angina is not suitable for specific surgery and often responds minimally to medication.
How can EECP help?
A course of EECP has been shown to increase new blood vessels in the heart and open up collateral blood vessels, creating a type of natural bypass procedure over the 35 hour course with sustained benefits for at least 3 years in approximately 80% of patients. EECP has also been shown to increase the levels of nitric oxide and other chemical messengers known to help blood vessel s expand to allow additional blood flow when required, and has consequently been used with significant benefit in patients with microvascular angina. EECP is used within NHS on a named-patient basis when other treatments have failed, and is a very safe, well tolerated and evidence-based treatment. For more information on the use of EECP as a treatment please contact the clinic on 01962 718000 or email The Dove Clinic
For a patient experience of EECP click here.