Safety Study of External Counterpulsation as a Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke

2014-08-27 03:19:05 | BioPortfolio


The purpose of this study is to determine if external counterpulsation (ECP) is feasible to perform, tolerable, and safe as a treatment for patients with acute ischemic stroke (i.e., a blockage of one of the arteries supplying a part of the brain), and to assess what type of effect it might have on 1) the velocity of blood flow in the arteries supplying the brain and 2) stroke symptoms. The hypothesis of the study is that ECP will be feasible and safe to perform, and will be tolerable for patients with acute ischemic stroke at pressures that increase the velocity of arterial blood flow to the brain.


A stroke is usually caused by a blockage of one of the arteries that carries blood to the brain. Sometimes with a stroke, there may be a small amount of blood flow that manages to get through or around the blockage, and it may be possible that the amount of damage from a stroke may be reduced by increasing this blood flow. External counterpulsation (ECP) is a procedure in which a machine uses electrical signals from the heart that are detectable on the surface of the body in order to time the inflation of cuffs (similar to a blood pressure cuff) that are wrapped around a patient's legs (calves, thighs and buttocks). Using a reading of the electrical activity from the patient's heart (an electrocardiogram, or ECG, monitor), the machine inflates the cuffs with air at just the right time during each heart beat, during diastole, in order to change the blood pressure in a way that has been shown to increase blood flow to the kidneys, skin, eyes, heart, and brain.

In this study, patients presenting within the first 48 hours of an acute ischemic stroke (i.e., a blockage of one of the arteries supplying a part of the brain) will be randomly assigned to either of (1) a 1-hour treatment of external counterpulsation (ECP) applied at a pressure that is typically therapeutic, or (2) a 1-hour treatment of ECP at a minimal pressure in a control group. ECP-induced changes in brain artery flow velocity will be assessed with an ultrasound prior to and then during ECP in each group, and an optimal pressure that results in an augmentation of flow velocity will be determined. A neurological exam will be performed prior to, during, and after ECP in each group, in order to assess any changes in stroke symptoms related to ECP. Patients will be followed to 30 days. The main goal of this trial is to evaluate if ECP is safe and feasible to use as a treatment for stroke. In addition, the trial will enable an assessment of whether or not ECP increases blood flow to the brain or affects the neurological symptoms of a patient with a stroke.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Control: Placebo Control, Endpoint Classification: Safety Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Single Blind (Subject), Primary Purpose: Treatment




External counterpulsation at a full pressure, External counterpulsation at sham-pressure


University of Alabama Hospital
United States




University of California, San Diego

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:19:05-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

A technique for assisting the circulation by decreasing the afterload of the left ventricle and augmenting the diastolic pressure. It may be achieved by intra-aortic balloon, or by implanting a special pumping device in the chest, or externally by applying a negative pressure to the lower extremities during cardiac systole.

Counterpulsation in which a pumping unit synchronized with the patient's electrocardiogram rapidly fills a balloon in the aorta with helium or carbon dioxide in early diastole and evacuates the balloon at the onset of systole. As the balloon inflates, it raises aortic diastolic pressure, and as it deflates, it lowers aortic systolic pressure. The result is a decrease in left ventricular work and increased myocardial and peripheral perfusion.

The pressure within the CARDIAC ATRIUM. It can be measured directly by using a pressure catheter (see HEART CATHETERIZATION). It can be also estimated using various imaging techniques or other pressure readings such as PULMONARY CAPILLARY WEDGE PRESSURE (an estimate of left atrial pressure) and CENTRAL VENOUS PRESSURE (an estimate of right atrial pressure).

Non-therapeutic positive end-expiratory pressure occurring frequently in patients with severe airway obstruction. It can appear with or without the administration of external positive end-expiratory pressure (POSITIVE-PRESSURE RESPIRATION). It presents an important load on the inspiratory muscles which are operating at a mechanical disadvantage due to hyperinflation. Auto-PEEP may cause profound hypotension that should be treated by intravascular volume expansion, increasing the time for expiration, and/or changing from assist mode to intermittent mandatory ventilation mode. (From Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 12th ed, p1127)

Decompression external to the body, most often the slow lessening of external pressure on the whole body (especially in caisson workers, deep sea divers, and persons who ascend to great heights) to prevent DECOMPRESSION SICKNESS. It includes also sudden accidental decompression, but not surgical (local) decompression or decompression applied through body openings.

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