Life-threatening irregular heartbeat treated in Israel for first time

The patient has been transferred to the cardiac intensive-care unit and is expected to be discharged this week.

December 24, 2017 19:40
1 minute read.
Male same-sex couple [Illustrative]

Male same-sex couple [Illustrative]. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

For the first time in Israel and one of the few times anywhere, a patient suffering from a life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) underwent ablation using an artificial heart pump inserted into an artery in his arm instead of through the groin, the standard method, which was impossible in this case.

The man, in his 50s who previously had a heart attack, was in an unstable condition due to the arrhythmia. But it was impossible to insert the pump through the groin because of the fragility of the blood vessels there. “Our patient suffers from severe vascular disease. As he was not stable due to the irregular heartbeat, we needed the heart pump to carry out the ablation,” said Prof. Michael Glickson, the new head of cardiology at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. Ablation is a type of cauterization procedure to scar or destroy heart tissue that had been allowing incorrect electrical signals and causing abnormal heart rhythm.

The patient already had a defibrillator implanted in his chest that gave him painful electrical shocks when his heart would beat irregularly, endangering his life, said Glickson, who performed the ablation with Dr. Moshe Rav Aha of the hospital’s arrhythmia unit. They introduced the heart pump via a small incision in his armpit, aided by Dr. Danny Fink, director of the chest unit and Dr. Rafi Wolf, director of the department of structural heart disease.

The patient has been transferred to the cardiac intensive-care unit and is expected to be discharged this week.

The highly unusual operation successfully corrected the patient’s arrhythmia, Glickson said, adding: “Had it not been for the use of an innovative combination of sophisticated means and exceptional skill of teams from various disciplines, this complex patient could not have been given the best treatment that would extend his life.”

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