A 78-year-old grandad has told how he woke up in Blackpool Victoria Hospital with a massive cloud of fear lifted from his shoulders.
Former hotelier, Michael Phillips, from St Annes, said he worried that his heart condition could cause a major stroke at any time.
But this week he became the first patient at the hospital’s Lancashire Cardiac Centre to undergo a new surgical procedure which substantially reduced the risks he faced.
The procedure involved a self-expanding device being placed into the left atrium of the heart. The implant opens up like an umbrella and prevents clots from forming.
“I had a cloud over me for the last 18 months,” Mr Phillips said. “I was so worried about having a major stroke because of my condition. But this morning I felt totally different, that cloud has lifted and I can now live without fear.
“My whole family is so relieved, I can look forward to life again, I feel I have been given the gift of freedom from worry. When I am discharged today I am going to look forward to the rest of my life.”
The operation, Left Atrial Appendage Closure, was carried out by cardiologist, Dr Shajil Chalil, assisted by his colleague Dr David Roberts and Dr Dhiraj Gupta from Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital.
The procedure, which has recently been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), will benefit patients who are not suitable for long-term blood thinners but have atrial fibrillation, (irregular heart beat) putting them at risk of blood clots which could cause strokes or potential organ damage.
Clots can form in the left atrial appendage and if they travel through the arteries they can cause stroke.
Dr Chalil explained: “We can now reduce the risk of stroke by offering this treatment which has been clinically trialled and has recently been approved by NICE as a suitable treatment.
“As a tertiary cardiac centre we want to be able to give our Lancashire and South Cumbria patients the full gamut of modern treatments and we believe this procedure will enhance our total care package.
“We are delighted to be able to offer this service to our patients. Dr Roberts and I will be the two cardiologists carrying out this procedure in the Lancashire Cardiac Centre. The procedure will help our patients feel safer as it substantially reduces the risk of stroke due to atrial fibrillation, in patients unable to take oral anticoagulants.”
Mr Phillips added: “The care I have received at the Cardiac Centre has been absolutely fantastic. I cannot praise Dr Chalil and Dr Roberts enough. They took the time to explain this procedure to me and ensure I totally understood what was happening and why.
“I had a heart attack in 2004 and went into hospital feeling very unwell. I likened myself to a lightbulb only operating at 40 watts. Today I feel like a 100 watt bulb, I can live my life again.”