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Int J Cardiol. 2013 Jun 5;166(1):38-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2012.04.003. Epub 2012 May 4.

Vasculoprotective properties of enhanced external counterpulsation for coronary artery disease: beyond the hemodynamics.

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Division of Cardiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, China.


A growing pool of evidence has shown that enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) is a non-invasive, safe, low-cost, and highly beneficial therapy for patients with coronary artery disease. However, the exact mechanisms of benefit exerted by EECP therapy remain only partially understood. The favorable hemodynamic effects of EECP were previously considered as the primary mechanism of action. Nevertheless, recent advances have shed light on the shear stress-increasing effects of EECP which are vasculoprotective and anti-atherosclerotic. EECP-induced endothelial shear stress increase may lead to improvement in endothelial function and morphology, attenuation of oxidative stress and inflammation, and promotion of angiogenesis and vasculogenesis. This review summarizes evidence of the potential mechanisms contributing to the immediate and long-term benefits of EECP, from the perspective of its shear stress-increasing effects.

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