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Circulation. 2002 Sep 3;106(10):1237-42.

Left ventricular systolic unloading and augmentation of intracoronary pressure and Doppler flow during enhanced external counterpulsation.

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Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, San Francisco, Calif 94143-0124, USA.



Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) is a noninvasive, pneumatic technique that provides beneficial effects for patients with chronic, symptomatic angina pectoris. However, the physiological effects of EECP have not been studied directly. We examined intracoronary and left ventricular hemodynamics in the cardiac catheterization laboratory during EECP.


Ten patients referred for diagnostic evaluation underwent left heart catheterization and coronary angiography from the radial artery. At baseline and then during EECP, central aortic pressure, intracoronary pressure, and intracoronary Doppler flow velocity were measured using a coronary catheter, a sensor-tipped high-fidelity pressure guidewire, and a Doppler flow guidewire, respectively. Similar to changes in aortic pressure, EECP resulted in a dramatic increase in diastolic (71+/-10 mm Hg at baseline to 137+/-21 mm Hg during EECP; +93%; P<0.0001) and mean intracoronary pressures (88+/-9 to 102+/-16 mm Hg; +16%; P=0.006) with a decrease in systolic pressure (116+/-20 to 99+/-26 mm Hg; -15%; P=0.002). The intracoronary Doppler measure of average peak velocity increased from 11+/-5 cm/s at baseline to 23+/-5 cm/s during EECP (+109%; P=0.001). The TIMI frame count, a quantitative angiographic measure of coronary flow, showed a 28% increase in coronary flow during EECP compared with baseline (P=0.001).


EECP unequivocally and significantly increases diastolic and mean pressures and reduces systolic pressure in the central aorta and the coronary artery. Coronary artery flow, determined by both Doppler and angiographic techniques, is increased during EECP. The combined effects of systolic unloading and increased coronary perfusion pressure provide evidence that EECP may serve as a potential mechanical assist device.

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