Is There Any Way to Avoid Open Heart Surgery?

Dec 12, 2023
Is There Any Way to Avoid Open Heart Surgery?
Enhanced external counterpulsation is a therapy that can restore blood flow to the heart, which may help certain patients avoid more aggressive treatments. It’s noninvasive and uses pressure to boost blood flow. Keep reading to learn more.

Open heart surgery is a life-saving procedure most commonly used to treat coronary artery disease. Whether you can avoid open heart surgery depends on factors specific to your case. 

The providers at the Carolina Heart & Leg Center offer enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP), a therapy that improves blood flow and eases symptoms of chest pain associated with heart disease. Let’s explore how this therapy may help you avoid aggressive surgical intervention.

Reasons not to rush into open heart surgery

Open heart surgery is an aggressive treatment that, like other surgeries, carries risks and potential complications. It’s reserved for severe heart disease and requires a substantial commitment to the recovery process. It’s always a good idea to explore all of your options.


A thorough evaluation of your overall health and medical history is crucial before considering open heart surgery. Conditions like advanced age, existing medical conditions, and a weakened immune system can increase the risks associated with open heart surgery. 

Another reason not to rush into open heart surgery is the importance of seeking multiple expert opinions. In some cases, alternative treatments or less invasive procedures may be more appropriate.

Different health care professionals may offer varying perspectives on the necessity and timing of surgery as well as alternative treatment options. It's essential to gather as much information as possible and engage in meaningful discussions with our health care providers to make an informed decision that aligns with what’s in your best interest.

Consider ​​enhanced external counterpulsation

Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) is a noninvasive treatment that offers a promising option if you’re looking to avoid open heart surgery, particularly in cases of coronary artery disease. 

This treatment involves using inflatable cuffs placed around your legs, which are synchronized with your heartbeat to create a counterpulsation effect. During the diastolic phase of the heart cycle, the cuffs inflate, increasing blood flow to the coronary arteries and improving oxygen delivery to the heart muscle. 


In the systolic phase, the cuffs deflate, which reduces the heart's workload and improves overall cardiac efficiency. This therapy has shown promise in relieving angina symptoms, improving exercise tolerance, and enhancing overall cardiovascular health. 

Additionally, EECP is associated with minimal side effects and a relatively short recovery period, making it an attractive option if you’re seeking a less invasive alternative to surgery. 

Consult with us at Carolina Heart & Leg Center to determine if you’re a suitable candidate and to discuss the potential benefits of this therapy in your specific case.

Commit to heart-healthy lifestyle changes

If you have coronary heart disease, EECP, along with lifestyle changes may prevent the need for open heart surgery. Here are some things you can do:

Prioritize a nutritious diet

Provide your body with healthy nourishment with a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Slash your intake of foods, sugary drinks, and saturated fats. These dietary choices promote heart health by reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol levels, and regulating blood sugar.

Get moving and stay moving

Physical activity is a cornerstone of heart health. Start with at least a half hour of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week. Cardiovascular exercises like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling strengthen your heart and improve how well your heart works.

Maintain a healthy weight

Too much body fat, particularly around the waist, can put a strain on your heart and increase your risks. Work with a health care provider on losing excess weight. Effective medications are available to help.

Quit smoking

Smoking can put you at risk for heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions. If you have heart disease, it’s even more important for you to quit smoking. If you’ve tried to quit without success, we can discuss medications with you that can help you quit.

To find out if EECP is an option for you, call us at 910-491-1760 or click here to schedule an appointment.