How good is EECP heart treatment

Natural bypass through the EECP method

"Self-healing hearts.

In the fight against heart attack, high-performance medicine saves many lives, but it does not cure them. Now doctors are breaking new ground in cardiac therapy: They are relying on the body's own bypasses - and the help of the patient. "
This is the headline of the Spiegel article by Jörg Blech [1,228 KB].

The current situation in short:

  • Over 300,000 Germans suffer a heart attack every year due to blockages or constrictions in the coronary arteries.
  • In 2012, 55,000 patients in Germany received bypasses.
  • In the procedure, which takes up to five hours, the chest is opened after sawing through the sternum so that the heart is exposed. Breathing and heartbeat are halted and taken over by the heart-lung machine. Then a small piece of the body's own vein or artery is used for the narrowed vessel. Even if the operation is now a routine procedure, it still involves risks. Around 700 patients in Germany do not survive the procedure every year, around 3,500 have a heart attack while the cardiac surgeon is still working in the operating room.
  • Cardiologists and surgeons repair congenital heart defects and save the lives of many people in the event of acute attacks.
  • However, bypasses, balloons, stents and medication cannot cure the life-threatening calcification of the coronary arteries, but only provide a delay.
  • Around 4 million people in Germany swallow cholesterol-lowering drugs, which are more likely to do harm than good.
  • Alone for one We spend EUR 220 million of these funds annually.
  • Cardiovascular diseases are still the most common cause of death at around 40%.


But research confirms: Even the already diseased heart still has the ability to heal itself. Because the human heart can bridge blocked vessels by allowing diversions to grow around constrictions. Experts call this process arteriogenesis.

"In all organs, in addition to the large arteries, there is a network of tiny, thin vessels, the so-called collaterals. If a large artery gradually narrows, for example due to calcium deposits in old age, then the blood backs up in front of it and looks for new paths - into the collaterals. These feel the increased thrust - and can gradually transform into large arteries. These natural bypasses have the potential for healing: organs with poor circulation can be rejuvenated - if the patient helps out, for example through exercise. " (Elisabeth Deindl, biologist from the Walter Brendel Center at the University of Munich Hospital.)

And this article from Deutsches Ärzteblatt shows that exercise works like a drug [1,741 KB].

Of course, prevention is better than cure

  • Enjoy life without smoking (suggestion ...)
  • Enjoy movement - 30 minutes a day is enough (suggestions for this ...)
  • Maintain normal weight with a tasty, healthy diet (suggestions for this ...)
  • Treat yourself to relaxation every day (suggestion ...).


To help patients establish these natural bypasses, the cardiologist can use the EECP procedure. In this non-surgical method, cuffs are placed on the legs and hips and inflated in a certain way.

Dr. In this information, Ruffmann briefly explains the process ... [150 KB]

Since arteriogenesis works not only in the heart but in the entire vascular system, the EECP method can also prevent strokes, relieve tinnitus and prevent the diabetic foot.

Where does the proposal work predominantly?

  • Maintaining health
  • Regaining health

What stage is the proposal at?

  • Established measure, but not very widespread.

What are the specific health benefits?

Many operations can be avoided through the EECP. In contrast to an operation, the EECP method has a healing effect on the human body through the creation of natural bypasses (arteriogenesis). Medication can be reduced in consultation with the doctor.

What exactly will reduce the costs?

The cost of the EECP treatment is around 4,000 euros. A reimbursement by the statutory and private health insurance providers is currently only occasionally available.

Redistribution proposals:
1. Medicines:
With the above-mentioned costs of EUR 220 million for ONE cholesterol drug with dubious benefits, EECP treatments with demonstrable benefits could be carried out in 55,000 patients per year.

2. Operations:
The costs for a bypass operation with rehab amount to around 24,000 euros. This affects around 55,000 people in Germany every year. This results in costs of 1.32 billion euros.

This means that with the same money you could provide 330,000 people (instead of 55,000) with lower risk and better prognosis if:
- people would act earlier and more responsibly
- the network of EECP therapy would be better developed and
- the cost bearers would assume the costs.

Health-scientific consideration:

a. Is the approach based on healing and the salutogenic principles?
Yes, through arteriogenesis.

b. Is the approach interdisciplinary or does it emphasize competition?
It is recommended that cardiologists and health advisors work together to optimally support patients in the areas of nutrition and exercise.
It would be helpful if more cardiologists nationwide were to use this method in order to be able to offer care closer to home.

c. What is the impact of the approach on the whole population?
The EECP approach could encourage people to fend for themselves earlier. It could be used in the context of tertiary prevention in people with vascular diseases to prevent heart attacks, strokes and emergency operations.

Although I cannot evaluate the EECP medically, the method sounds very promising in terms of health science in the sense of "more health for less money". For this reason I would like to inform you about it at this point and encourage a discussion in the forum.

Sources and further information:

Contact details:

Looking for a competent contact person on this topic, I am on Dr. Ruffmann from Baden-Baden. He will be happy to answer your questions and will also help his patients apply for voluntary benefits from the health insurance providers.

Dr. med. Kai Ruffmann
Specialist in internal medicine and cardiology

Vincenti Medical Center
Sophienstrasse 47
76530 Baden-Baden

Phone: 07221/9707220
Email: [email protected]