For the first time ever a custom made heart patch has successfully saved the life of a heart attack patient.

An elderly woman who suffered from a severe heart attack was brought to Southampton General Hospital where surgeons felt it too risky to carry out an invasive open heart procedure. She was in such bad condition that doctors weren’t sure how to treat her.

Dr Vettukattil, who specializes in children’s heart conditions, said, “This lady had suffered a very severe heart attack and surgeons felt it too much of a risk to operate on her, which left the options extremely limited and her chances of survival slim.”

The patient had a hole in her heart that was far too wide to use conventional treatment. Instead Dr Joseph Vettukattil proposed the idea of using his own radical scanning technique to observe the affected area.

The scanning technique allowed him to study the movement of the three dimensions of the heart and isolate the parts of the heart that weren’t functioning properly.

He emailed the scanned images to a group of specialists in Sweden who were able to develop the patch in less than two days.

He added:

“When I looked at the hole, it was large and unsuitable for closure, so I tried my luck and asked a company whether they could help. They designed it precisely to my drawings and the device was flown in within 48 hours.”

The revolutionary heart attack patch worked successfully and within a week the elderly lady was discharged to her local hospital and put in a residential home for rehabilitation.

Dr Vettukattil explained:

“With the information available from such sensitive scanning as 3D echocardiography, we could see the introduction of a specific device to address particular problems such as acute heart attacks and this process is already underway.”

This is a huge step forward in developing new treatments for people who have suffered from heart attacks where conventional methods fail to work.

Heart attacks can be fatal and are one of the leading causes of death in the world. In the UK around 275,000 people have a heart attack every year, of which 120,000 result in death.

In recent years the incidence of heart attacks has improved in the UK, however the elderly are at a much higher risk as they have limited access to see a cardiologist which reduces their chance of early intervention.

Written by Joseph Nordqvist