Medicine is ever evolving and approaches to treatment of diseases are advancing at a tremendous pace.
It is impossible for even seasoned medical staff to keep abreast with the latest treatment methods available in the market at any given time. So it is up to professionals like us, “people who think out of the box,” to explore new treatment methods, study its effects, side effects and supporting published data available, establish if it is safe enough and then introduce it to the medical community and the public.
External Counterpulsation (ECP) is one of those treatments that emerged in the west and was successfully performed in China by Prof Zheng Zhenseng and associates and is now performed at major hospitals in the world. It has taken us 27 years after Professor Zheng had perfected the treatment to bring ECP to South Africa.
ECP is not here to replace conventional forms of medical treatments such as angio’s (stents), cardiac surgery or medications. (ECP) like all treatments available today has its strengths and limitations, example, it cannot be performed on children with congenital heart diseases or on patients with significant aortic valve regurgitation.
But what it can do is establish blood flow to areas of the heart that is ischaemic by establishing collateral blood vessels. This is one of the mechanisms of ECP that causes symptomatic relief from angina. After performing more than 2000 hours of ECP on various patients I have come to a realization that ECP should be performed first before any invasive interventional procedures to ensure the greatest success with the least pain and suffering of going through all the invasive procedures and still coming back to perform ECP when all else fails.