Procedure helps heart disease patients
By Kyle LoJacono
One of the things Marina Bainbridge most enjoys is going out to dinner with her daughters, but until a recent procedure, her heart made that virtually impossible.
Bainbridge also could not do daily activities like washing and hanging up clothes, cleaning, cooking and shopping.
“I’d have to stop at the first bench and rest when I was shopping,” Bainbridge said. “One of my daughters had to get everything and I’d only get up when they went to check out. I just got so weak that I couldn’t move. When I was hanging wash I had a chair close by so I could sit down.
“I was never really in pain,” Bainbridge continued. “I just felt weak like I couldn’t get enough oxygen to my heart.”
Even simple phone conversations were a chore. Bainbridge’s daughters, Carol Rehrig and Linda DeRanek, also saw the decline in their mother’s health.
Her physician at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills, Dr. Sunil Gupta, suggested a procedure called external counterpulsation (ECP). Bainbridge thought it was worth a try.
“It’s used for people who are not candidates for stents or other surgeries either because they’ve had one before or their health won’t allow it,” said Dr. Ketul Chauhan, who is Gupta’s partner with the hospital.
“A lot of people who have stents still have pain after, or in Ms. Bainbridge’s case get very tired,” Chauhan continued. “That’s about 10 percent of people who have that kind of procedure.”
The ECP machine attaches to a patient’s legs. It then inflates and deflates like a heartbeat, which forces more blood to the heart. This causes the body to form more capillaries, or small blood vessels, around the heart.
Those who opt for ECP commit to using the machine for one hour a day, five days a week for six weeks. The procedure is completely noninvasive and done in the doctor’s office area.
ECP has been used for 34 years and is approved by the American College of Cardiology, according to Chauhan. He also said it has been used at the two doctor’s practice for three months, making it the only East Pasco County facility to offer it.
“I think it’s a great thing for those with pain, weakness or can’t have other procedures,” Chauhan said. “I had another patient who couldn’t mow their yard and now they can walk three miles. That’s the typical kind of response.”
Bainbridge has lived in Zephyrhills for 36 years. Both of her daughters also live in the city. Her trouble with her heart started four years ago when she had triple-bypass surgery.
Bainbridge then had two stents and a balloon was used in April to clear blockages. Her doctors recommended the treatment, which she started June 1 and completed July 13. Chauhan said the procedure can relieve the problem for one to three years.
“It gently helped me get stronger,” Bainbridge said. “I didn’t notice for about two weeks, but then it got so much better.
“I’ve always had problems with my lungs and breathing since I was a girl,” Bainbridge continued. “My other doctor says I only use about half of my lungs. I couldn’t swim two strokes without having to stop. If I didn’t have that problem with breathing I’d say I feel perfect now. I feel I have the energy to do anything.”
To Rehrig it was very apparent when Bainbridge was getting better.
“I called to check in on her and she told me she was doing great,” Rehrig said. “She told me she just finished two loads of laundry, so I knew she was much better.”
DeRanek said of the improvement, “She is doing so much better. She’s getting up earlier and can do the normal things everyone is used to doing. It’s a complete change. It’s really given her a lot of her life back.”
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