24/12/2012 10:39 GMT | Updated 24/12/2012 10:41 GMT

Doctors Treat Heart Problem With 'Shot Of Alcohol'

Doctors gave a man a shot of neat alcohol to the heart - killing off some of his heart muscle - in a daring operation to cure a rare disorder.

This Is Somerset reported that Ronald Aldom, 77, from Portishead near Bristol, suffered from ventricular tachychardia, an irregular heart rhythm that can be deadly.

His doctors passed a catheter into a blood vessel in his groin and guided it up towards his heart, delivering a dose of pure ethanol into his heart, triggering a controlled heart attack and killing some heart muscle.


The man would not have survived without the rare operation, which gives a shot of ethanol to the heart

It is one of only a few times the operation has been successfully carried out.

Mr Aldom was admitted to hospital after his implantable defibrillator, which monitors his heart irregularities, gave him a “thunderstorm of shocks”.

Cardiologist Dr Tom Johnson, who carried out the procedure at the Bristol Heart Institute, told the BBC that Mr Aldom was now "much better".

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

He told This Is Somerset in a separate interview: "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 to prevent you from dropping dead in the community. If your heart is doing something unusual like going very, very fast, firstly it will try to pace you out of that rhythm.

“If that fails, it will actually elicit 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, when it does go off, it is like being kicked in the chest.”

Mr Aldom, who is now out of hospital, told the BBC: "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."