MELBOURNE, Australia – An Australian grandmother had a liquid derived from seaweed injected into her heart, in a world-first procedure poised to dramatically boost heart attack survival rates.
Pauline Fulton underwent the treatment in a Melbourne hospital two weeks ago, two days after she suffered a major heart attack.
Dr. William van Gaal, a cardiologist who performed the procedure, said it could revolutionize treatment for heart attack patients and save lives.
Many who suffer major heart attacks later die of heart failure after their heart becomes enlarged as it compensates for the damage, van Gaal said.
But it was hoped the liquid, bio-absorbable cardiac matrix, would prevent the heart enlarging, and heart failure developing.
In the 30-minute procedure, van Gaal injected 0.13 fluid ounces of the "liquid device" into the blocked artery, which was absorbed by the damaged heart muscle.
It then formed a gel that acted as a scaffold to support the heart muscle as it recovered and prevented the organ becoming bigger, he said. After six weeks, the liquid device, which had no side-effects, would dissolve and be excreted from the body through the kidneys.
Standard treatment was to give patients tablets to prevent their heart enlarging, but they were not always effective, van Gaal said.
Fulton, 64, became the first of 300 patients who will have the experimental treatment in a worldwide study.
It could be routine treatment within three years, van Gaal said.