By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
According to doctors at the Northern Hospital in Epping a new liquid-based treatment for sufferers of heart attacks could substantially improve patient recovery.
They did the first procedure of its kind by injecting the dissolvable liquid device into a patient - a Victorian grandmother. The device flows to the damaged heart muscle and helps it repair. The liquid is derived from seaweed and was injected into Pauline Fulton's heart, a fortnight ago, two days after she suffered a major heart attack.
The director of cardiology, Professor Bill van Gaal, explained, “Many who suffer major heart attacks later died of heart failure after their heart became enlarged as it compensated for the damaged part. But it was hoped the liquid, called bioabsorbable cardiac matrix, would prevent the heart from enlarging, and heart failure from developing, he said. In the 30-minute procedure Prof van Gaal injected 4ml of the “liquid device” into the blocked artery and it was absorbed by the damaged heart muscle. “It then formed a gel which acted as a scaffold that supported the heart muscle as it recovered and prevented the organ from getting bigger,” he said. After six weeks, the liquid device - which had no side effects - would dissolve and would then be excreted from the body through the kidneys.
“Standard treatment was to give patients tablets to prevent their heart from enlarging but they were not always effective,” Prof van Gaal said. “This is a completely novel approach which could herald a big change in the way we treat patients, and significantly improve their outcomes.”