Doctors 'save man's life by using alcohol'

Conical flask A small amount of absolute alcohol was injected to produce a small controlled heart attack

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UK doctors have saved a man's life using an unconventional treatment - a shot of neat alcohol into the arteries supplying his heart.

Ronald Aldom, 77, from Portishead near Bristol, had an unusual heart rhythm called ventricular tachychardia that can be fatal if left unchecked.

Medics had tried to treat it using standard methods but with no success.

They resorted to using pure ethanol to trigger a controlled heart attack and kill off some of his heart muscle.

Ethanol ablation

The procedure involved passing a catheter into a blood vessel in the groin and guiding it up towards the heart.

Once the catheter identifies which part of the heart the dangerous rhythms are coming from, the ethanol dose can be delivered.

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

This rare treatment has only been conducted a handful of times in the UK.

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

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

Mr Aldom, who is now out of hospital, said: "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."

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