BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Common sense will tell you alcohol is not good for the heart. However, did you know it’s being injected into the heart to improve a specific heart condition?
Dr. Jorge Castellanos is the new interventional cardiologist at Our Lady of the Lake. On Sept. 4, he performed the very first alcohol septal ablation procedure in Baton Rouge.
It’s a roughly 25-minute long non-surgical procedure to treat a patient who has a thicker wall of the heart, so thick that it prevents blood from going out to the other organs.
Patients have three options: medication therapy, open heart surgery, or to inject alcohol into a specific branch of a heart vessel.
“The type of alcohol that we use is very toxic to the heart, so the goal is to induce a very small amount and localize a heart attack,” said Dr. Castellanos. “It shrinks and by shrinking it, we get rid of the obstruction of the blood going out of the heart.”
To get a better understanding of this, check out this animation created by Tufts Medical Center.
A tiny needle is inserted through the wrist or groin, then makes its way through the body to reach the patient’s heart. Once it gets inside, the doctor finds a specific vessel in the heart, where a small balloon is inflated. That makes way for the alcohol to be injected into that branch of the heart’s vessel. Between one to two milliliters is used for this procedure.
“It’s a small amount, but it’s enough to cause damage of that small area, which is our purpose," he said.
Following the procedure, the patient needs to wear a pacemaker for 28 hours as a precautionary measure.
“The main benefit of the procedure is to relieve symptoms,” Dr. Castellanos explained.
This form of treatment can help a patient feel less winded on a regular basis. Now that Dr. Castellanos is at The Lake, more patients with this heart condition will be able to breathe easier.