Utah (ABC4) — Intermountain Health doctors recently used radiation treatment, typically used to treat cancer patients, on heart patients and were successful.

According to a press release by Intermountain Health, doctors successfully performed the new procedure to cure a life-threatening irregular heartbeat in patients. They said this would pave the way for future heart patients in Utah.

The treatment, stereotactic radiotherapy, is typically performed on cancer patients. However, Intermountain doctors used it on two patients after other standard cardiac procedures failed to correct their heart arrhythmia. According to the press release, the patients had refractory ventricular tachycardia (VT), a potentially life-threatening heart abnormality.

For one of the patients, Shannon Brooks, it was reportedly a last-ditch effort, as the treatments he previously had were no longer working, and he was under severe heart failure. Brooks was planning on getting listed on the national heart recipient transplant list until Intermountain cardiologists recommended he try the new procedure.

“For specifically-selected patients, who really have few options, this new stereotactic radiation treatment can be a game-changer,” said Grant Hunter, MD, an Intermountain Health radiation oncologist, who helped treated Brooks. “The chance to treat these high-risk patients with a non-invasive treatment is a novel and exciting option.”

According to the press release, the Intermountain heart and vascular team worked with the radiation oncology programs to perform the first-ever procedure held in Utah on Brooks. They said this was a medical milestone for the state.

“Overall, the planning process was a collaborative and successful effort with cardiac Imaging, EP, and radiation oncology to provide a non-invasive option for the patient’s life-threatening arrhythmia,” said Peter Hu, MD, medical director of cardiac molecular imaging at Intermountain Medical Center.

Intermountain said Brooks, mid-50s, was ecstatic with the outcome of the procedure, and the opportunity to be one of the first in Utah to have it performed on him. According to the press release, the procedure is only performed at a few sites nationally for cardiac patients. It is offered in the Intermountain Medical Center in the radiation oncology clinic as an outpatient procedure.

It has been three weeks since Brooks had the procedure, and according to Brooks’ wife, Jen Brooks, it’s provided hope for them.

“We were feeling pretty hopeless and this procedure brought us a new perspective. We’re so grateful,” said Jen. “This could have been a different story.”

Photos Courtesy of Intermountain Health and Shannon Brooks

Brooks said he looks forward to playing with his grandchildren, playing guitar, visiting the shooting range with his son, attending concerts, and celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary with his sweetheart, Jen.