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The development and state of the art of circulatory assistance using external pressure variations is reviewed. All of these techniques use the principle that by cyclic external pressure waves properly timed to the cardiac cycle, hemodynamic energy can be noninvasively transmitted to assist the circulation. Cyclic pressure waves to the lower body require that the high-pressure phase occurs in diastole in order to augment cardiac output or coronary flow. In contrast, pressure waves top the chest would optimally augment cardiac output is they begin at the onset of ventricular systole. Manipulation of lung pressure by synchronized ventilation can be utilized to augment cardiac output. The above methods are discussed in detail with special emphasis on the pathophysiology and mechanisms of cardiac assistance.