Windsor Star

Reliable and safe

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My husband, 68, has just been told he has hypertroph­ic cardiomyop­athy. His cardiologi­st suggests treatment with ablation. I know this is fairly new, and I wonder how safe it is and if the results are worth the risks. He has tried medicine, but the condition has gotten worse. What can you tell us about this procedure? —

DEAR DOCTOR:

D.G.

Cardiomyop­athy indicates the heart trouble lies in the heart muscle, not the arteries that bring blood to the heart (the most common kind of heart disease) or in the heart valves (another common heart problem).

"Hypertroph­ic" refers to an overgrowth of the heart muscle, with large muscle fibres laid down in disarray.

Most hypertroph­ic cardiomyop­athy patients are discovered in their young years, since it is a genetic condition. It’s a big cause of sudden death in young athletes. A smaller number of patients is discovered later in life, like your husband was.

Hypertroph­ic cardiomyop­athy can have no symptoms, or it can be disabling and potentiall­y deadly. The toomuscula­r heart leaves little room for blood in the pumping chamber and can obstruct the flow of blood out of the heart.

Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting episodes and periods of abnormal and dangerous heartbeats.

When medicines cannot control symptoms, then doctors have to intervene with invasive procedures. The one suggested to your husband is one of them. It’s been used for a number of years.

Alcohol is injected into heart arteries that feed the section of heart muscle causing problems. It’s one good way of solving a difficult problem, and it’s been safely and dependably used for years.

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