A NEW life-changing treatment is now available for patients at Basildon Hospital’s world-renowned heart centre.

The hospital is one of the first in the country, and the first in the south east of England, to offer a first-of-its kind drug, called Mavacamten, to benefit patients with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).

HCM affects 1 in every 500 people and causes thickening of the heart muscles, affecting the heart’s ability to pump blood properly and causing irregular heart rhythms, palpitations, chest pain, difficulty breathing, fainting, and even sudden death.

The new drug helps heart muscles to relax more effectively, improving blood flow, making the patients’ condition better.

The first person to be offered this medicine in Essex is Nick King, a London taxi driver from Grays.

He said: “This is a very big day for me. This new medication has given me hope to get back to normal life. I am excited to see how this helps me and really grateful for the opportunity.”

Earlier, patients with this condition were treated with medications which would reduce the pumping of the heart, but at a cost of various side effects.

Individuals not responding well to those medications would need open heart surgery to remove the affected part of the heart muscle or alcohol injection into the thickened muscle to shrink it, posing significant risk, and both physical and mental burden.

Dr Jason Dungu, lead inherited cardiac conditions consultant at the trust, said: “Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is one of the most common inherited heart conditions, and it’s very exciting to be one of the first centres in the UK to offer this innovative drug.

“We’ve been managing Nick’s treatment for several years and watched him slowly deteriorate. Treating him with the new medication will hopefully improve his condition and quality of life, and research studies suggest he will be able to avoid open heart surgery in the future.”

Mavacamtemn is currently being offered by less than five trusts across the country and the team at Essex CTC, led by Dr Dungu and supported by Inherited Cardiac Conditions Nurse, Amy Hardy-Wallace, expect to help many patients across the region by the end of this year.