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Newly Performed Heart Procedure at Valley Health Gives Virginia Woman Her Life Back

Newly Performed Heart Procedure at Valley Health Gives Virginia Woman Her Life Back

Broadway resident Stella Dove arrived at the Winchester Medical Center EmergencyStella Dove Department in May feeling terrible. Over the past few weeks and months, she had fainted repeatedly and experienced pressure in her chest and neck whenever she exerted herself.

Dove had hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HCM), a disease in which the heart muscle becomes thickened and can’t pump blood effectively.

“Her interventricular septum was thick, causing a significant load on her heart and mitral valve,” says Aref Bin Abdulhak, MD, a board-certified interventional cardiologist and structural heart specialist at Valley Health. “She was very symptomatic with recurrent passing out spells. She didn’t tolerate medications due to allergic history and side effects.”

Dove discussed her treatment options with Dr. Bin Abdulhak, taking into consideration her activity level and her age. She could get a septal myectomy, which would require open-heart surgery and a longer recovery time, or she could opt for alcohol septal ablation (ASA), a more minimally invasive heart procedure that involves inserting alcohol into a patient’s heart. ASA is typically performed when a patient remains symptomatic despite optimal medical therapy or does not tolerate medications.

“ASA is a less-invasive approach in comparison to surgical myectomy, and with a comparable outcome,” Dr. Bin Abdulhak says.

Dove believed ASA was the better treatment plan for her. “I wanted a quality life with minimum recovery issues that this procedure provides.”

On May 8, 2023, under the steady hand of Dr. Bin Abdulhak, Dove became the first person to undergo alcohol septal ablation at Winchester Medical Center. The procedure involved threading a catheter from her groin all the way to the artery that carries blood to her septum. Dr. Bin Abdulhak then injected alcohol into the thickened heart area.

The surgery was a success. The alcohol caused some of Dove’s heart muscle cells to shrink and die, thus reducing the thickness of her heart muscle and improving blood flow.

“This marks another landmark in our structural heart program,” Dr. Bin Abdulhak says.

Dove says she felt great the day after surgery.

“I didn’t know how bad I felt until after I had the procedure.” Dove spent six days recuperating in the hospital. She now can do the activities she enjoys, like gardening and mowing her yard. “I thought everybody at Valley Health was just great,” she says. “The doctor, the nurses, everyone was just great.”

For more information on Valley Health’s structural heart program, please visit valleyhealthlink/heart.