So says Sharon Durbin, a 62-year old recently retired RN and heart patient from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, who has been undergoing a unique, non-invasive, non-drug and effective way to manage the debilitating symptoms of angina caused by coronary microvascular disease and cyclic spasms. This photo shows Sharon’s view of her feet during the cardiac treatment known as Enhanced External Counterpulsation, or EECP.* Sharon’s EECP sessions are held daily, and consist of a series of 35 to 50 one-hour appointments. As Sharon explained recently in her This Old Heart blog article:
“EECP is an FDA-approved alternative to coronary stents and bypass surgery, promoting the development of collateral coronary arteries. It’s used in patients who are not good candidates for surgery, performed in prominent clinics such as Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and the Cleveland Clinic.”
Because lying immobilized for an hour every day during this cardiac therapy can be tiresome – and because you’ll likely be staring down at your feet during this time – Sharon recommends wearing your brightest and most fun socks for each appointment. She adds:
“Socks are THE perfect accessory for EECP!”
Here is just a small sampling of her best:
Who needs matching socks!?
Rainbow socks — “Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue…”
Playful polka dot socks!
Sharon’s favourite Toe Socks – “I feel like I am in grade school again!”
Sharon has a significant family history of heart disease (her father had his first coronary bypass surgery at age 41). She’s living with coronary microvascular disease, cyclic coronary spasms, and has had two stents implanted for blocked coronary arteries. Her ongoing angina is managed through EECP and medication. Until cardiac issues forced her to retire, Sharon loved her job as a registered sonographer at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, specializing in obstetrical ultrasound testing.
So what’s with those socks?
She explains that some time ago, she received several pairs of fun socks as gifts from family and friends, specifically to be worn during her EECP sessions. Socks, she has now decided, really are “the voice of the heart”, describing how her fun socks affect her treatment:
“I hear and feel the love and compassion from friends and family in a concrete way – and I feel it throughout the entire session of EECP.”
* And here’s how Sharon describes her daily one-hour EECP treatment routine:
“I know the process well. After I stretch into a pair of navy blue leggings (and feeling ever so vulnerable) daily, I will rest upon a padded exam table. The nurse then places electrodes on my chest and wraps pneumatic compression cuffs around my calves, thighs and buttocks. These cuffs are attached to air hoses that connect to valves that inflate and deflate the cuffs based upon my heart rate.
“I hear the humming and thumping and feel tightness and pressure that increases and decreases depending on the irregularity of my heart beat on any particular day.
“EECP has improved my quality of life – and gives me hope. It takes commitment and willingness to complete the process – of that, I have no doubt. Studies have shown the process stimulates the formation of collateral blood vessels in the heart by stimulating the release of nitric oxide. Collateral arteries are small blood vessels that open and create a detour for blood to flow around blockages in major arteries.
“Following the hour-long procedure, I head into Cardiac Rehab for a monitored exercise session. This is the route to go for me right now, for these reasons:
- no invasive procedures required
- little risk
- minimally time-consuming
- performed on an outpatient basis
- low cost
“AND… I know it will work. I will have less angina and take nitro less frequently in the end. The success rates of clinics that I researched range from 80 to 90 percent.”
♥ For more on how Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP) works to manage angina symptoms, visit the Cleveland Clinic site.
♥ For more on TENS therapy, another form of non-invasive, non-drug treatment for coronary microvascular disease, read My Love-Hate Relationship With My Little Black Box.
- What is causing my chest pain?
- The chest pain of angina comes in four flavours
- Women’s heart pain is both physical and emotional
- Coronary Microvascular Disease: a “trash basket diagnosis”?
- My love-hate relationship with my little black box
Q: What do you make of EECP (and Sharon’s fun socks?)