Angina relief breakthroughs

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A new, nonsurgical treatment offers significant relief from chronic angina. Previously, the only long-term solutions were balloon angioplasty or bypass surgery. But a recent study presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association suggests that Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP) may be just as effective. The severe chest pain of angina is caused by a lack of oxygen to the heart muscle; EECP provides more blood (and therefore more oxygen) to the heart by periodically compressing a series of cuffs wrapped around the patient's legs and buttocks. Subjects who underwent the treatment, even those on maximal medication, showed notable decreases in anginal episodes and significantly improved their endurance on treadmill exercise tests. EECP requires 35 1-hour sessions over a period of four to seven weeks and is estimated to cost considerably less than surgical alternatives.

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By Jordan Matus

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