When Ronald Aldom developed ventricular tachychardia, or an unusual heart rhythm, doctors decided to treat it a little unconventionally. Doctors gave a shot of neat alcohol, or pure ethanol, via a catheter through the blood vessel in the groin that connects to the heart.
For Aldom, 77, from Portishead in England, the ethanol triggered a “controlled heart attack,” and actually killed the part of his heart muscle that was problematic. Doctors decided to try this approach after several unsuccessful conventional treatments. “Ethanol ablation” as it is called, has only been done a handful of times in the United Kingdom. The procedure saved Aldom’s life, making his heart beat regularly again.
“He wasn’t going to leave the hospital unless something was done. There was no other option” – said Dr. Tom Johnson, a cardiologist at the Bristol Heart Institute. Johnson said Aldom is doing “much better,” and he’s out of the hospital.