Alcohol septal ablation is a minimally invasive treatment option for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HMC), a common genetic heart condition. In the past, individuals who did not respond to oral medication would require open heart surgery. This advanced and less invasive option is now available as part of the Structural Heart Program’s comprehensive care for HMC.

What is alcohol septal ablation?

This procedure is performed by an interventional cardiologist in a cardiac catheterization lab. During the procedure, a thin, small tube is inserted into the groin and led to a specific portion of the heart. Alcohol is injected directly into the heart, killing some of the thickened heart muscle’s cells and causing them to immediately shrink. The smaller heart muscle allows blood to flow more easily through the heart and reduces HCM symptoms.

Why are the benefits of alcohol septal ablation?

Individuals with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy who didn’t respond to oral medications were traditionally treated with open heart surgery. Today, alcohol septal ablation is used mitigate symptoms of HCM and lower the risk of complications by decreasing the size of the heart muscle.

What are the symptoms of HCM?

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes cells in the heart muscle to enlarge and the ventricle walls to thicken. This thickening can obstruct blood flow in the heart and cause a number of electric and mechanical dysfunctions, including:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • abnormal heart rhythms
  • lightheadedness or fainting
  • swelling in the feet, ankles, legs and abdomen

The severity of HMC varies from person to person. Some people experience few or no symptoms while others have symptoms that are life-threatening and limit their quality of life

What are the risk factors for HCM?

HCM is usually inherited, and it’s caused by a mutation in a gene for one of several proteins in heart muscle cells. People of all ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds can develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The condition affects approximately one in 500 Americans – up to 1.5 million people.

Alcohol Septal Ablation at Georgia Heart Institute

Performed in our cardiac catheterization lab at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, our team has access to some of the most advanced technology available to treat even the most complex heart and vascular conditions. We carefully monitor our clinical quality data and outcomes for every procedure, ensuring that we can provide the highest level of care to all of our patients.

As Georgia’s most forward-thinking heart and vascular program, Georgia Heart Institute has surgical back-up for each of our cath lab procedures, which means a highly skilled cardiothoracic surgeon is on-site during your minimally invasive procedure to ensure that any complications are treated quickly and with a high level of expertise. When surgical back-up is not present in the cardiac cath lab, should complications arise, you may need to be transferred to a different hospital entirely. However, at Georgia Heart Institute, you have the highest degree of expertise available right there, ensuring that your heart is in the best hands possible.

Connect with our Program

If you’re ready to get started, contact our dedicated Structural Heart Program coordinator today to discuss your upcoming procedure or to refer a patient.

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