Cutting-edge radiation treatment gives heart disease patient new lease on life

Two men and woman standing in front of clinical machine
Radiation oncologist Dr Tee Lim, Sherralee McMahon, Cardiologist Dr Ben King
August 6, 2020

Cardiologists and radiation oncologists from Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) and GenesisCare have become the first in Western Australia and only the second in Australia to use radiation therapy to treat a patient with heart disease.

The highly precise, targeted treatment, known as stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (SABR), is most commonly used to treat cancer by delivering a high dose of radiation to kill tumours without exposing surrounding healthy tissue.
The team of doctors at FSH and GenesisCare used the SABR technique to treat Sherralee McMahon who has life-threatening arrhythmia known as ventricular tachycardia (VT), which causes improper electrical activity that causes a rapid heart rate and cardiac arrest.
Prior to the procedure, Sherralee suffered from multiple episodes of arrhythmia daily, but due to other health issues, was deemed unsuitable for a heart transplant.
FSH Cardiologist Dr Ben King said SABR therapy for patients with VT was relatively new and has only been carried out on small number of patients worldwide.
“Compared to surgical options, SABR is a completely non-invasive treatment which takes between only five and 10 minutes, meaning patients can return home to their loved ones as soon as possible.”
Sherralee is recovering well and has travelled to Broome for some much-needed sunshine and family time.