An Alternative To Heart Surgery

‘Natural bypass’ EECP opens collateral cardiac vessels, boosts circulation.

Last year, Mitchell Smith sold his share of a popular meat market in Brooksville. Since then, the Plant City native has been keeping himself busy building outdoor grills and helping tend his landlord’s 100-acre farm.

EECP has alleviated Mitchell’s chest pain.

“I’ve had the grill-making business since October,” elaborates Mitchell, 57. “I weld aluminum to the grill frames, which we then sell. We’ll put whatever accessories people want under the frames. For example, some people put little refrigerators there.

“The farm is my landlord’s property. I rent the house from him. I don’t keep any animals myself, but my landlord has cows. I enjoy helping him out on the property.”

While working at the meat market, Mitchell and his employees cut and sold all types of meats, including hamburger, chicken and steak. He held a stake in the market for several years, then sold his interest to his partners.

“Before that, I worked for Coca-Cola® as a sales manager for 20 years,” Mitchell recounts. “I sold Coke® products and set up displays in grocery stores and convenience stores. I probably enjoyed my job at the meat market the most. I liked having my own business. But I also enjoyed working for Coca-Cola.”

In his free time, Mitchell likes to hunt and fish. Unfortunately, Mitchell experienced a health setback 4½ years ago that made trudging through the woods to hunt much more challenging.

“I was working at the meat market and felt this terrible heartburn,” Mitchell discloses. “The next day, the heartburn got really bad, and then my left arm started hurting and I started sweating. I was taken to the hospital, where I found out I was having a heart attack.”

At the hospital, Mitchell was met by L. Amarchand, MD, a cardiologist and internist. Dr. Amarchand determined the heart attack was caused by blockages in the coronary arteries surrounding and supplying Mitchell’s heart. The cardiologist placed four stents to open up those blockages and improve blood flow to Mitchell’s heart.

“Now, I have no chest pain and no more shortness of breath when I wake up in the morning.” – Mitchell

Still, Mitchell found himself with decreased vigor. Eventually, he experienced additional heart-related symptoms that took him back to Dr. Amarchand for assistance.

“I’m a person who’s on the go from daylight until dark. I can keep up with anybody,” Mitchell describes. “I started getting exhausted easily. I couldn’t work as hard on the farm. Things like putting up fences, labor work, I couldn’t do for very long.

I had to slow down.

“Then last year, I woke up in the morning with chest pain and shortness of breath. It scared me that I was having another heart attack. Dr. Amarchand performed an angioplasty. He went up into my heart with a balloon and opened up my arteries. He did that procedure a couple of times. The last time, he said my arteries were too small for stents, so he recommended that I do EECP instead.”

The Perfect Option

EECP, or enhanced external counterpulsation, is an alternative to surgery for relieving symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath. It’s a safe, noninvasive, circulation-boosting technique offered by Dr. Amarchand at his Brooksville practice to treat patients with heart disorders such as congestive heart failure, blocked coronary arteries and angina pain.

Dr. Amarchand knew that the source of Mitchell’s problem was a lack of oxygenated blood flowing through his heart. That situation can cause symptoms such as a loss of energy, shortness of breath, a tightening or pressure in the chest and weakness.

“As these symptoms get progressively worse, it is not unusual for people to restrict their activities 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
12 million Americans have found relief from their symptoms, had their energy restored and received other benefits.”

EECP is delivered through a series of 35 hourlong sessions over 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.”

“The treatment is not painful at all,” Mitchell insists. “It feels like they’re taking your blood pressure. And it’s easy. You just sit there and relax. I watched TV during my treatments.”

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 or angioplasty and patients who aren’t candidates for surgery.

“According to studies done on the procedure, 85 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.”

The treatment is FDA-approved and Medicare-reimbursed.

Because it’s noninvasive, EECP can be repeated as often as needed, Dr. Amarchand says, although he emphasizes the beneficial effects can last three to five years.

Secondary Benefit

Mitchell reports that before he began treatment, his chest pain generally rated a five or six on a scale of one to 10.

“Now, I have no chest pain and no more shortness of breath when I wake up in the morning,” Mitchell enthuses. “I’m also moving around like I used to, doing things I haven’t done in a while. I’m getting back to my normal self.”

The semi-retired grill-maker received a secondary benefit from the treatment as well.

“I’ve had high blood pressure most of my life,” Mitchell reveals. “During health checkups, it’s typically elevated a little higher than normal. Since doing the EECP, however, my blood pressure has dropped to a normal status when
I go for checkups.”

Mitchell is highly satisfied with his outcome. He’s also pleased with the physician who treated him.

“Dr. Amarchand is a straightforward guy,” he raves. “He’s very knowledgeable, and I really like him. He’s helped me out a lot, and he’s always available to meet with me. He told me, If you need anything, give me a call. I recommend him to anybody.

“And I definitely recommend EECP. I had to take the time to go to Dr. Amarchand’s office every day to do the treatment, but it was well worth it.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz.mkb
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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