Uphill Climb

Noninvasive protocol acts as natural cardiac bypass.

After 31 years of service, Donald McFarland retired in 1999 from his career with the phone company in his native New Jersey. During those years, he held many positions, including lineman, PBX repairman and splicer. He liked his job and would have worked longer, but he was seriously injured in a work-related accident and couldn’t remain on the job.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

EECP treatments have relieved Donald of his chest pains and breathing difficulties.

“I would have stayed at the phone company if I hadn’t fallen out of a bucket truck and broken my neck and back,” Donald states. “It was a brand-new truck, but it was defective. The factory put bolts in the wrong spot, and the bucket tipped on me. Four guys got hurt on the same truck.”

The consequences of Donald’s injuries were long-term and took a toll on him physically and emotionally. The lasting ache in his neck and back reached a point where he could no longer tolerate the cold, northern winters or maintain his large New Jersey home, so he relocated to Florida in 2007.

“All of my bones hurt from the accident,” Donald relates, “and we had a really big home in New Jersey. It had seven bedrooms and two complete kitchens. Where I live now, my house, my Florida room and my carport fit in the living room of the other house. My electric bill at that house was huge, so we moved down here.”

The year Donald relocated to Florida, he suffered a heart attack, and an interventional radiologist placed two stents in his blocked coronary arteries. Donald continued to experience uncomfortable symptoms, however, and eventually, the symptoms began interfering with his day-to-day activities.

“There’s a little hill that goes from the street to my house, and I couldn’t walk up the hill without huffing and puffing,” Donald describes. “And I was always tired. I had no energy. I got chest pains several times a week and couldn’t breathe. I was ready for the good Lord to pull the plug and was about to give up when my doctor in Florida said, I think you should go to Dr. Amarchand and get his treatment.

L. Amarchand, MD, is a board-certified cardiologist and internist in Brooksville who offers his patients a unique treatment protocol and surgical alternative for relieving symptoms such as Donald’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.

“My doctor told me my stents would probably last for about four more years, then I might have to get new ones,” Donald shares. “That was on my mind when I decided to try Dr. Amarchand’s EECP treatment. When I met Dr. Amarchand, he said I was a perfect candidate for the therapy.”

Rhythm of the Beat

Symptoms such as a loss of energy, shortness of breath, a tightening or pressure in the chest and weakness can all be caused by a lack of oxygenated blood flowing through the heart.

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

“More than twelve million Americans have found relief from their symptoms, had their energy restored and received other benefits through the use of EECP,” Dr. Amarchand informs.

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 explains. “It helps the patient’s own circulatory system bypass coronary artery blockages and opens up the underused collateral blood vessels.”

“When I went in for the procedure, I was visualizing all kinds of bad things,” Donald recalls. “I thought, It’s got to hurt, pumping blood up into me. But when the treatment started, I couldn’t believe it. It was nothing like I imagined. There was no pain involved, and I went to sleep during the treatment sessions. It was actually a pleasant experience.”

EECP is the perfect option for individuals who want to try a noninvasive procedure before resorting to open heart surgery, Dr. Amarchand notes. 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 discloses. “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,” the doctor says of the treatment that is both FDA-approved and Medicare-reimbursed. “However, its beneficial effects can last from three to five years.”

Real Results

Like many patients who receive EECP, Donald noticed improvement in his symptoms after just a few treatment sessions. At first, he thought he was imagining the changes, but as he continued with the sessions, the improvement in his symptoms increased. He regained energy, and his other symptoms started disappearing.

“After the third or fourth EECP treatment, I started feeling better,” Donald reports. “It was a little easier to walk up the hill. I was still puffing a little, but I could walk it without really complaining. Then after the sixth or seventh treatment, I said, This isn’t in my mind; this treatment is working.

“Now, I’m breathing fine, even in the heat. Before, I couldn’t go out when it was hot. And I’m afraid to say it, but I haven’t had any chest pains since I got EECP, and I can walk up that hill with no problem. I’d say right now, my symptoms are
ninety-five percent gone.”

EECP proved effective for Donald’s coronary artery disease, which was checked recently during a follow-up visit to test the status of his stents.

“I went for my yearly check-up with the interventionalist,” he relates. “He performed an echocardiogram, and all the echoes showed that my heart is fine. Nothing is clogged. My arteries are the way they’re supposed to be.

“I thank God for EECP. It really worked for me. Now, I won’t go without it. As long as I’m alive, I’m going back to Dr. Amarchand every two years for another round of EECP.”

Print This Article
    • 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