Treating vascular disorders with compressed air

Neuruppin, 14 December 2016

BMBF sponsors AngioAccel project with 1.7 million euros. Amputations to be reduced by up to 25%.

Prof. Dr. Ivo Buschmann, director of the university angiology clinic, and Dr. Philipp Hillmeister, director of the experimental angiology department, receive more than 1.7 million euros from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF for their project AngioAccel in the course of the next three years. The Ministry promotes the development of promising innovations under the heading “validation of innovation potentials” (VIP).

Prof. Buschmann, expert in vascular medicine and angiology, and molecular biologist Dr. Hillmeister explore vascular disorders on the MHB Brandenburg campus. They welcome the funding and plan to further expand research in experimental angiology and test the effects of their new intervention in clinical studies.

Prof. Buschmann points out that in a good state of health we are not aware that blood flows through vessels and transports vital substances to all organs and cells of the body. However, peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD) is dangerous and frequently progresses without being noticed until very late. Calcification can cause a narrowing or even closure of arteries. Circulatory disorders will then cause signs and symptoms of disease, mainly in the legs, sometimes in the arms as well. If such symptoms are noticed very late a patient’s situation may suddenly deteriorate, with amputation as a consequence in the worst cases. Atherosclerosis is not limited to legs and arms and can affect all vessels in the body. This is why additional disorders such as coronary disease or circulation disorders in the brain may occur in PAOD patients. PAOD reduces average life expectancy by approximately ten years.

It is colloquially known as window shoppers’ disease since affected patients can only walk short distances and have to stop repeatedly: “The chronic pains associated with PAOD lead to increasing immobility, and the lack of exercise results in further disorders and a drastic impact on the quality of life”, so Prof. Buschmann.

Dr. Hillmeister adds that atherosclerosis may result in PAOD, heart attacks and strokes, which are among the most frequent causes of death in Germany: “The number of PAOD patients has doubled worldwide since 2000 to now over 300 million and continues to rise. Treatment, nursing and work absences are causing immense costs. Amputations may become necessary in worse cases and late stages of PAOD. Amputation rates in Brandenburg are high, and we have more than 80.000 amputations nation-wide – unreported cases not included. In addition, the risks of heart attacks or strokes are about 60% higher in atherosclerosis patients with PAOD. Brandenburg occupies a sad top position in Germany in statistics on death from heart attacks. So there is a great need for new strategies to change this situation.”

This is where AngioAccel comes in, so Prof. Buschmann: “AngioAccel stands for a new treatment strategy geared to the individual patient and designed to activate and strengthen the regenerative powers of arteries. The PAOD patient lies down for treatment, hips and thighs are wrapped in cuffs, not unlike a pair of trousers, and compressed air is then filled in and released in the patient’s cardiac rhythm. The intervention also activates the cardiovascular system and may therefore be described as a type of passive exercise. Although the patient does not move during therapy, the compression of cuffs makes the blood flow faster through the leg arteries, like in real physical exercise, and the increased blood flow simulates a training situation.”

Numerous publications of research findings designate the two angiologists as leading world-wide in the field of therapeutic arterial dilatation. As early as 2009 they demonstrated that it is possible to clearly improve the dilatation of biological bypasses without surgery through the use of leg cuffs in patients with coronary heart disease. Unlike traditional therapies such as EECP, the leg cuff procedure is adapted to each patient’s individual needs. The occasionally considerable side effects of EECP can thereby be drastically reduced. The Brandenburg Medical School now offers the appropriate context to optimize, develop and implement research done over the past two decades in institutions of the Berlin Charité, the Albert Ludwig university clinic in Freiburg, and the Max Planck society.

According to Prof. Buschmann, the objective is to reduce the amputation rate in PAOD patients in Brandenburg by 25% over the next few years. AngioAccel aims to alleviate PAOD symptoms noticeably, improve patients’ quality of life and motivate them to exercise more, do more sports and in general live a more conscious life: “Currently there is no other medical product comparable to AngioAccel for sustainable outpatient preventive therapy and rehabilitation in PAOD.”

The BMBF funds will be used to finance a clinical study with 300 PAOD patients to test and confirm the innovative potential of AngioAccel.

Dr. Philipp Hillmeister, director of the experimental angiology department, Campus Brandenburg an der Havel, is available for any questions you may have on the topic: (phone) +49 (0)3381-41-1556, (email)

Prof. Buschmann and Dr. Hillmeister welcome research funding.