Enhanced external counterpulsation improves exercise tolerance in patients with chronic heart failure

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 Sep 19;48(6):1198-205. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2005.10.079. Epub 2006 Aug 28.


Objectives: The PEECH (Prospective Evaluation of Enhanced External Counterpulsation in Congestive Heart Failure) study assessed the benefits of enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) in the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate heart failure (HF).

Background: Enhanced external counterpulsation reduced angina symptoms and extended time to exercise-induced ischemia in patients with coronary artery disease, angina, and normal left ventricular function. A small pilot study and registry analysis suggested benefits in patients with HF.

Methods: We randomized 187 subjects with mild-to-moderate symptoms of HF to either EECP and protocol-defined pharmacologic therapy (PT) or PT alone. Two co-primary end points were pre-defined: the percentage of subjects with a 60 s or more increase in exercise duration and the percentage of subjects with at least 1.25 ml/min/kg increase in peak volume of oxygen uptake (VO2) at 6 months.

Results: By the primary intent-to-treat analysis, 35% of subjects in the EECP group and 25% of control subjects increased exercise time by at least 60 s (p = 0.016) at 6 months. However, there was no between-group difference in peak VO2 changes. New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class improved in the active treatment group at 1 week (p < 0.01), 3months (p < 0.02), and 6 months (p < 0.01). The Minnesota Living with Heart Failure score improved significantly 1 week (p < 0.02) and 3 months after treatment (p = 0.01).

Conclusions: In this randomized, single-blinded study, EECP improved exercise tolerance, quality of life, and NYHA functional classification without an accompanying increase in peak VO2.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Counterpulsation / methods*
  • Exercise Tolerance*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology*
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index