Impact of enhanced external counterpulsation on peripheral circulation.
Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) is a noninvasive counterpulsation technique that reduces angina and improves exercise capacity in patients with coronary artery disease. Diastolic coronary perfusion is augmented by pneumatic compression of 3 sets of cuffs wrapped around the lower extremities. Although central hemodynamic changes are well investigated, almost no data exist about the changes of peripheral circulation during EECP. In this study, 12 patients with angina and angiographic evidence of coronary artery disease were treated for 1 hour with EECP. In these patients, peripheral artery disease was excluded by duplex sonography. The patients rested 1 hour before EECP in supine position, and they remained in that position for 1 hour after the procedure. Changes of flow volumes and flow pattern of the posterior tibial artery and the brachial artery were measured by sonography at the end of all 3 periods. Furthermore, we measured the concentration of circulating prostanoids at these 3 time points. Averaged flow volume of the posterior tibial artery decreased to 69% +/- 23% (P < .05) during EECP and increased to 133% +/- 34% (P < .05) of baseline 1 hour after the procedure. In contrast, the averaged flow volume of the brachial artery increased by 9% +/- 4% (P < .05) during EECP and returned to baseline values after EECP. The flow pattern of the posterior tibial artery showed a second early diastolic antegrade flow caused by the cuff inflation and a reverse end-diastolic flow after the deflation of the cuffs. These flow changes caused an increase of the pulsatility index by Gosling (397% during EECP), returning to baseline values in the recovery period. Plasma concentrations of circulating prostanoids showed no significant change during EECP. Thus, pedal flow volume decreased to approximately two thirds of baseline during EECP followed by reactive hyperemia even 1 hour after the procedure; however, this decreased perfusion triggered no change of the prostacyclin/thromboxane ratio and was well tolerated by all investigated patients. The observed 4-fold increase of the peripheral pulsatility index supports the thesis of increase of shear-stress-related improvement of endothelial function during EECP.