Enhanced External Counterpulsation Offers Potential Treatment Option For Long COVID Patients

In a small study of long COVID-19 patients, those with and without coronary artery disease (CAD) demonstrated improvement of a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, breathing difficulties and chest discomfort, after undergoing 15-35 hours of enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) therapy, according to a study presented as part of ACC's Cardiovascular Summit virtual conference, taking place Feb. 16-19.

Researchers included 50 long COVID patients (54±15 years old) referred to a Flow Therapy provider for EECP treatment in a retrospective analysis, including 30 patients with no history of CAD and 20 patients with CAD. All patients were assessed pre- and post-EECP therapy using the Seattle Angina Questionnaire-7 (SAQ7), Duke Activity Status Index (DASI), PROMIS Fatigue Instrument (PROMIS), Rose Dyspnea Scale (RDS) and 6-minute walk test (6MWT).

The analysis found statistically significant improvements across all validated testing tools:

  • Health Status using the SAQ7 tool improved by 25 points (Range 0-100)
  • Functional capacity using the DASI assessment improved by 20 points (range 0-58.2)
  • Fatigue levels using the PROMIS score decreased by 6 points (Range 4-20)
  • Shortness of Breath using the RDS decreased in 50% of patients
  • Walking capacity (6MWT) in 6 minutes increased by 178 feet

Researchers found the change from baseline for patients with long COVID only was significant for all endpoints and no difference was evident between patients with long COVID without CAD compared to those with CAD.

"EECP is a disease-modifying, non-invasive therapy that has previously shown to improve endothelial function in controlled clinical trials," said Sachin A. Shah, PharmD, senior author on the study and chief scientific officer at Flow Therapy, a nationwide EECP provider headquartered in Ft. Worth, TX. "We currently believe that this is the most plausible explanation for the benefits derived from EECP and the link to long COVID."

According to the researchers, larger studies with a sham-control group are justified to further validate these findings. "We are excited about continuing to analyze this data and share it in the future," Shah adds.

ACC's Cardiovascular Summit provides an important opportunity for the entire cardiovascular care team and/or service line to come together to hear from experts and share best practices when it comes to managing rapid change, transforming care delivery, optimizing the clinician experience, navigating health care economics and enhancing the academic agenda.

Other abstracts presented at the meeting include:

  • Improving Blood Pressure Management Through Blood Pressure Recheck Compliance
  • Reducing Patient Blood Pressure Using the Hypertension Bootcamp Approach with Remote Patient Monitoring
  • Association Between Erectile Dysfunction, Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Coronary Artery Disease: Role of Exercise Stress Testing and International Index of Erectile Function Questionnaire
  • Improving Emergency Medical Services First Medical Contact to Primary Coronary Intervention Time

On-demand access to sessions will be available through May 31. Also stay up to date throughout the conference via social media by using the hashtag #CVSummit and following @ACCinTouch.

Clinical Topics: Cardiac Surgery, COVID-19 Hub, Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathies, Prevention, Atherosclerotic Disease (CAD/PAD), Cardiac Surgery and Heart Failure, Mechanical Circulatory Support, Hypertension

Keywords: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Coronary Artery Disease, Blood Pressure, Risk Factors, Counterpulsation, Heart Disease Risk Factors, Emergency Medical Services, Dyspnea, Hypertension, Delivery of Health Care, Patient Care Team

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