Controlled heart attack restores quality of life
A unique procedure, which involves the use of alcohol to induce a controlled heart attack is restoring quality of life for a small number of patients.
Interventional cardiologist A/Prof Will Chan is one of few Australian doctors using the technique, known as alcohol septal ablation, as a treatment option for patients where open heart surgery is not recommended.
“Patients with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy have a thickened heart muscle, which will increasingly obstruct the blood flow. If left untreated, the condition can eventually cause significant breathlessness, chest pains, dizziness, and sometimes death,” A/Prof Chan said.
“While surgeons can cutback the thickened muscle, they first need to stop the heart. Patients who have previously had open heart surgery, or who are older or frail, are often poor candidates for such an invasive procedure.”
Prof Chan said alcohol septal ablation may be the answer in these cases, and can help normalise heart function.
“The procedure involves the injection of pure alcohol directly into the overgrown heart muscle to create a localised chemically-induced heart attack.
“The alcohol is toxic to the heart cells and causes them to die. As the cells shrink, the overgrown muscle reduces in size, and blood flow is improved.”
The Alfred is one of the only Victorian hospitals that offers this treatment option.