"The feeling right now is a lot of pressure that's built up from my ankles all of the way through my waist," says Sharp. "We do this an hour at a time, for five days a week, for a month."
After two by-pass surgeries and no significant improvement, Doctors at St. Vincent Heart Clinic of Arkansas recommended Enhanced External Counterpulsation, or EECP.
"This is a non-invasive way to treat patients suffering from angina, which is a chest pain, shortness of breath that people have suffered from blocked arteries of the heart," says Cardiologist Debasis Das.
Like Sharp, ideal patients are those who have had unsuccessful results from traditional therapy such as medicines, stents and bypass surgery. During a typical session of EECP, blood pressure cuffs are placed on the patients' legs and as they're inflated, blood is pushed up from the lower limbs to the heart. Right before the heart pumps, the cuffs deflate, reducing resistance and decreasing the heart's workload.
"You can carry on a conversation. You can watch television, what have you," says Sharp. "When you are finished, it's like having an hour worth of intensive exercise."
"In three out of four people, the effect is marvelous," says Dr. Das. "You are free of symptoms, don't have chest pain and have more energy."
The effects usually last up to two years. Sharp says the commitment is well worth the benefit.
"It made me feel tons better. It was great to have a procedure that didn't require a needle or scapula."
EECP requires a large commitment. Patients must undergo 35 hours of treatment which is administered 1-2 hours a day, five days a week for 7 weeks.