'Baked Alaska' treatment saves heart attack victim
A pioneering treatment "much like a baked Alaska", has been used to save the life of a heart attack patient in a UK first.
Steve Jaggers, 50, was taken to Basildon Hospital and then transferred to Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC) where he underwent the surgery.
Using a new type of rapid cooling called therapeutic hypothermia, the technique involved reducing his body's internal temperature to minimise swelling and damage caused to the heart.
"When an artery is blocked the surrounding heart muscle dies," said consultant cardiologist Dr John Davies.
"When we open up the artery, the muscle that has died is further damaged by the rapid reflow of blood - about half the injury to the heart following a heart attack is caused by this."
Dr Thomas Keeble, consultant cardiologist, added: "By cooling the patient before we open the artery, we can protect the heart and significantly reduce the amount of heart damage.
"It's essential to do this quickly - we cool them from the inside but keep their outside warm, much like a baked Alaska."
The CTC is the only UK centre to be in the worldwide randomised trial for the Zoll catheter called the Proteus, said the Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Conscious throughout the procedure, Mr Jaggers said he did not feel any pain as the catheter balloon was inserted into the inferior vena cava via his leg.
During the surgery a cool liquid runs into the balloon and cools the body down from inside - Mr Jaggers was wrapped with warming blankets to prevent him from shivering.
A 'normal' body temperature is 36.5 degrees, but within 18 minutes of Mr Jaggers being admitted to theatre, his temperature was 32.5 degrees and at its lowest was 31.7 degrees.
He added: "It was such a strange sensation; I don't know how to explain it. Inside I was cold. I felt like I was shivering inside, but I wasn't showing it.
"It didn't feel like me. It was a bit of an out of body experience. It was weird but nice."
After the surgery, Mr Jaggers, a maintenance worker at a care home, was warmed up slowly in recovery, by one degree per hour.
He said: "It felt like being abroad in the sun, where you get hotter and hotter. I felt like my insides were being warmed from the outside. It seemed to take ages.
"Now I feel completely fine. It's like nothing has happened to me. I've been treated really well here, like a king. A massive thank you to all the staff at Basildon Hospital and the CTC.
"Everyone, from the staff on reception at A&E who rushed me for treatment so quickly, to the expert team in the CTC, took the best possible care of me."