Repeat Customer

Veteran relies on “natural bypass” to curb lingering heart symptoms.

Photo by Jordan Pysz

During his many visits, George has gotten to know Dr. Guo (left), Dr. Amarchand (center left) and Debbie McCall (right).

As a youngster, George Niebler toured a United States Navy ship that was on display for an open house. George’s experience aboard the vessel left a lasting impression so great that he went on to serve in the Navy for 28 years.

“The best part about being in the Navy was traveling the world,” George, now 76, shares. “Many of the places we went are my favorite, not just one. I really liked the Philippines and Japan. I lived in Morocco for two years and in Spain for a year, and I liked those places as well. I enjoyed moving around.

“When I retired from the Navy in 1987, I started looking for another job. I saw an opportunity to become a vocational teacher at a trade school and took it. I taught for fourteen years and retired for good in 2004. Now, I spend my free time doing yardwork, working around the house and volunteering.”

But George is haunted by his past. In 1992, he suffered chest discomfort and was sent for a cardiac catheterization. It revealed several of the coronary arteries in George’s heart were severely clogged, and he was sent for surgery. The surgery was successful at bypassing George’s blocked arteries, but his heart symptoms returned years later.

“In 2008, I began experiencing difficulties again,” George recalls. “I started feeling short of breath and a lack of energy. I had slight chest pain as well. I was forced to slow down from many of my activities, including working in the yard and around the house.

“I’ve been volunteering at Regional Medical Center at Bayonet Point for fourteen years. My job is to be the hospital mailman, so I walk three to four miles a day delivering mail. In 2008, I actually had to use oxygen to complete my volunteer tasks.

“Also at that time, the doctor found some additional artery blockages in my heart, but they said it was too risky to open me up again. Instead, my cardiologist referred me to Dr. Amarchand for his treatment.”

L. Amarchand, MD, a board-certified cardiologist and internist in Brooksville, offers his patients a unique treatment protocol and surgical alternative for relieving symptoms such as George’s. It’s a safe, noninvasive, circulation-boosting technique called enhanced external counterpulsation, or EECP.

Dr. Amarchand uses EECP to treat patients with heart disorders such as congestive heart failure, blocked coronary arteries and angina pain. Using EECP, Dr. Amarchand has an impressive record of success in maintaining his cardiac patients’ heart health and independence.

Measured Rhythms

To Dr. Amarchand, George’s problem was clear: He had a lack of oxygenated blood flowing through his heart. And that can cause symptoms such as a loss of energy, shortness of breath, a tightening or pressure in the chest and weakness.

“It’s not unusual for people to restrict their activities as these symptoms get progressively worse in order to reduce their discomfort,” Dr. Amarchand asserts. “As a result, their quality of life quickly diminishes. EECP can reverse these symptoms by working like a natural bypass procedure.

“Through the use of EECP, more than twelve million Americans have found relief from their symptoms, had their energy restored and received other benefits.”

“Within a couple of weeks of beginning EECP, my breathing ability was much better. I became much more active as well.” – George

EECP is delivered through a series of 35 hour-long sessions over the course of seven weeks. During an EECP session, the patient reclines, fully clothed, on a cushioned table while listening to music or watching a movie.

Compression cuffs are wrapped around the patient’s calves, thighs and buttocks to apply pressure in rhythms carefully timed to the patient’s heartbeat.

“The pressure propels more blood upward and into the coronary arteries, enlarging the arteries and improving collateral circulation,” Dr. Amarchand educates. “It helps the patient’s own circulatory system bypass coronary artery blockages and opens up the underused collateral blood vessels.”

“During an EECP session, I lie on a table with cuffs on my legs that constantly expand and contract,” George describes. “Each session takes an hour. I can watch TV if I want, or I can bring in a radio with earphones and listen to that. There’s no pain at all with the treatment.”

EECP is the perfect option for individuals who want to try a noninvasive procedure before resorting to open heart surgery, Dr. Amarchand observes. “It’s also good for those who have not achieved relief with prior surgical procedures such as bypass and angioplasty, and for patients who aren’t candidates for surgery.

“According to studies done on the procedure, eighty-five percent of patients completing EECP treatments obtain substantial and sometimes dramatic relief from their heart-related symptoms,” Dr. Amarchand reports. “The same percentage realizes increased exercise tolerance, mental alertness and reduced need for nitroglycerin to relieve angina pain.”

Because it’s noninvasive, EECP can be repeated as often as needed, Dr. Amarchand says of the treatment that is both FDA-approved and Medicare-reimbursed. However, the doctor points out, its beneficial effects can last from three to five years.

Stressless Delivery

George’s first round of EECP was completed in 2008. At the time, George experienced results quickly and benefitted significantly from the therapy. He achieved so much benefit from EECP that he was encouraged to repeat the treatment to keep his collateral blood vessels open and maintain the therapy’s positive results.

“Within a couple of weeks of beginning EECP, my breathing ability was much better,” George remembers. “I became much more active as well. Today, I feel good. I don’t have the shortness of breath. I haven’t had any chest pain, and I have a lot more energy. I can do my job at the hospital without oxygen. I can walk the three to four miles to deliver the mail, and it’s stressless.

“When I first had EECP, it was recommended I have the therapy on a yearly basis to prevent my symptoms from recurring. I’ve been going back to
Dr. Amarchand every year for the past eleven years.”

A course of EECP treatment is delivered over seven weeks, and George received the treatment 12 times. With all the visits to Dr. Amarchand’s office, George got to know the practice’s physicians and staff quite well. He says he enjoys working alongside Dr. Amarchand and Dr. Tong Guo, who operates the EECP equipment and oversees the procedure.

“Dr. Guo is one of the doctors who initiated EECP in the United States, who got it approved by the FDA and the insurance companies,” George relates. “He’s very nice and helpful, as are his wife and the woman who performs the treatments when Dr. Guo isn’t available. I highly recommend them and the treatment.

“I’m very impressed by EECP therapy. Getting it done regularly, I haven’t had a return of my heart symptoms, and I will continue to visit Dr. Amarchand and have EECP yearly. It’s been very helpful for me.”

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    • L. Amarchand, MD, FACP

      L. Amarchand, MD, FACP, is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He completed a residency in internal medicine and a two-year fellowship in cardiology and cardiac nuclear imaging at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingsto... Read More

    • L. Amarchand, MD, FACP

      L. Amarchand, MD, FACP, is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He completed a residency in internal medicine and a two-year fellowship in cardiology and cardiac nuclear imaging at St. Barnabas Medical Center, Li... Read More

    • Tong Guo

      Dr. Tong Guo, a pioneer in obtaining FDA approval of EECP for use in the United States, assists Dr. Amarchand in overseeing EECP, ensuring the delivery of optimal treatment with excellent outcomes for patients. Dr. Guo worked as a researc... Read More