Legacy Heart Care: Strengthening Hearts, Empowering Lives: How EECP and Chronic Disease Management Are Taking Patient-centered Care to a New Level

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH, Director of Clinical Education, Legacy Heart Care
Friday, March 30, 2018

Despite steady advancements in medical care, the epidemic of chronic disease continues to affect more than half of all Americans each year, depriving millions of the quality of life they deserve while accounting for 86 percent of the nation’s $2.7 trillion annual healthcare expenditures1. Cardiovascular disease, in particular, remains the No.1 cause of morbidity and mortality plaguing adults, responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths2. Legacy Heart Care — with its commitment to quality care, patient education and clinical research — is emerging on the frontline as a key player in patient-centered care. As the largest provider of Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) since 2003, Legacy’s mission is simple: to improve the health and touch the life of every patient it treats.

Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH, Director of Clinical Education, Legacy Heart Care

EECP is a noninvasive cardiovascular treatment for chronic angina that uses pneumatic cuffs to sequentially compress the lower extremities along with the cardiac cycle in a way that leads to diastolic augmentation and decreased afterload. Treatment response rates among patients are high; more than 85 percent of patients undergoing EECP report noticeable improvement in symptoms within a few weeks of initiation, with studies demonstrating decreased frequency of anginal episodes, decreased need for nitrates, improved exercise tolerance and increase in the time to exercise-induced ischemia3.

While research continues to strengthen the understanding of the physiologic mechanisms behind the therapeutic effects of EECP, we do know that the procedure increases oxygenation of the myocardium via immediate improvement in central hemodynamics while promoting coronary collateral growth over time4. For the patient, this translates into symptom improvement soon after initiation of treatment, which can last up to five years4. More recent evidence suggests an even more intricate mechanism: many of the long-term benefits of EECP seem to be due to the improvement in peripheral shear stress secondary to changes in blood flow that results in widespread alterations in endothelial-derived vasoactive agents, proinflammatory cytokines and markers of antioxidant capacity5. These systemic effects lead to the partial reversal of the endothelial dysfunction that characterizes coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis5.

When coupled with an emphasis on compassionate, personalized care, the nature of the EECP treatment course — with its 35, one-hour sessions carried out five days a week over a span of seven weeks — offers unique opportunities for Legacy Heart Care to further improve the lives of individuals and to address a public health challenge by providing the crucial intervention of chronic disease management education. With the vision of ultimately reducing chronic disease burden and healthcare costs, Legacy Heart Care developed its integrated Health & Wellness program — a multifaceted, patient education program designed to engage and empower individuals with chronic diseases to play an active role in managing their conditions, so that they may achieve better health and quality of life. This program takes advantage of the high-touch structure of the care Legacy currently provides to help patients cultivate the confidence and skills they need to effectively take control of their health, set healthy living goals and successfully achieve them. Through a combination of EECP, chronic disease education and focused clinical research, Legacy Heart Care strengthens its dedication to elevating the individual patient experience while making a positive difference in the health of our communities.

To learn more about EECP, please contact our San Antonio office at 210-558-1800 or visit our website at legacyheartcare.com.