herald

Monday 23 October 2017

Alcohol remedy used to save life of heart victim

Doctors have saved a patient's life by killing off part of his heart with neat alcohol.

Medics used the rare treatment to induce a controlled heart attack.

Cardiologist Dr Tom Johnson said his patient Ronald Aldom would never have left the Bristol Heart Institute in England if his condition could not have been treated.

The 77-year-old was suffering from a life threatening heart rhythm called ventricular tachycardia (VT) -- which occurred as a result of a previous heart attack.

A team of surgeons tried to treat the condition using standard procedures but were unable to safely perform them.

The team decided to treat Mr Aldom with "ethanol ablation".

The procedure involves passing a catheter to the heart from the groin which identifies which part of the heart the dangerous rhythms are coming from.







Muscle

A tiny balloon is then blown up in the heart artery supplying that area and a small amount of absolute alcohol is injected into the artery to produce a small controlled heart attack.

This kills the area of the heart muscle causing the problem allowing the heart's rhythm to return to normal.

Mr Aldom said he was admitted to hospital after his implantable defibrillator (ICD) gave him a "thunderstorm of shocks".

Dr Johnson said: "Mr Aldom presented a couple of months ago with this life-threatening type rhythm disturbance, VT, which was related to the damage done to the heart -- the scar associated with his previous heart attack."

Dr Johnson has previously performed the procedure for patients with Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy -- a condition in which the heart muscle becomes thick -- but this was his first use of the procedure to treat VT.

"The patient is doing tremendously well and is much better," he said.

hnews@herald.ie

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