Doctors save man's life by using neat alcohol to give him a HEART ATTACK
Ronald, 77, suffering from a life-threatening disturbance to heart rhythmNeat alcohol injected into artery to destroy heart muscle causing the problemPatient was well enough to leave hospital three days later

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UPDATED:

11:20 GMT, 24 December 2012

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

Medics used the rare treatment on Ronald Aldom to induce a controlled heart attack, after they realised they could not safely perform standard procedures on him.

Cardiologist Dr Tom Johnson said his 77-year-old patient would have died without the procedure.

Heart surgery: Alcohol ablation has only been used a handful of times to treat heart problems

Successful surgery: Alcohol ablation has only been used a handful of times to treat heart problems

Mr Aldom was suffering from a life threatening heart rhythm called ventricular tachycardia (VT) – which occurred as a result of a previous heart attack.

The team decided to treat Mr Aldom, from Portishead near Bristol, with 'ethanol ablation'.

The treatment has only been conducted a handful of times in the UK to treat VT, Dr Johnson said.

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.

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 Tom Johnson performed the procedure

Consultant cardiologist Dr Tom Johnson performed the rare procedure

Dr Johnson, an interventional
cardiologist, 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.

'The
defibrillator is there to try and prevent you from dropping dead in the
community – they listen out for the heart doing unusual things – if your
heart is doing something unusual like going very, very fast, firstly it
will try and pace you out of that rhythm – it will try and suppress the
activity within the heart.

'If
that fails it will actually illicit a shock of energy across the heart
which hopefully straightens things out and puts you back into a normal
rhythm.

'It is potentially a rather difficult thing for a patient to live with because there is that threat that it could go off and actually when it does go off it is like being kicked in the chest.'

Mr Aldom added: 'I was admitted to the Bristol Heart Institute after what doctors described as a thunderstorm of shocks from my ICD.

'I had an ICD fitted about ten years ago after I had a double by-pass operation at the hospital. The device gives my heart a shock when the rhythm becomes abnormal; however, I had about 30 shocks and knew there was something wrong.'

The Bristol Heart Institute is a state-of-the-art centre that was opened in 2009

Mr Aldom was treated at The Bristol Heart Institute, which is a state-of-the-art centre that opened in 2009

Dr Johnson said the team of medics tried to treat Mr Aldom's irregular heartbeat with medication and “electrical ablation” to try and burn away – or kill off – the area of muscle which was generating the irregular heartbeats.

But they were unable to perform the procedures – so treating they decided to treat Mr Aldom with ethanol ablation.

'The alternative, unfortunately, was that he was going to die from his irregular heart rhythm,' he said.

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 doing and is much better,' he said.

'He wasn't going to leave hospital unless something was done. There was no other option.'

Mr Aldom added: 'After the procedure I was out of hospital within about three days.

'I think it's wonderful that the doctors tried everything to help me. If they hadn't have done this I wouldn't be here now.'