A new way of relieving pain of angina- pulse waves are delivered through thigh and leg cuffs trigger the growth of new blood vessels. People who have angina, experience episodes of chest pain on exertion or during stress because the blood supply to their heart cannot cope with the oxygen demand being made on it. They can be treated by angioplasty, to open up a blocked artery to the heart, or bypass surgery to short-circuit a vessel blockage.
Angina can relieved by another, less invasive, method by increasing blood flow to the heart. Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP) involves delivering measured pulse waves to the circulation through special thigh and lower leg cuffs. These produce alterations in blood pressure that stimulate the growth of tiny new blood vessels serving the heart.
The latest study on EECP, carried out by researchers in Japan, reveals that three out of four known blood vessel growth factors have their levels raised during EECP. Eleven individuals with angina, average age 60, took part and reported reduced chest pain alongside the increase in growth factors. EECP is non-invasive and safe and, if larger studies prove its effectiveness, offers new hope for people with angina who are not responding to current therapies.