If at first it doesn't succeed ...

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

Jonas Gustavsson's setback is not unexpected or unusual and shouldn't be career threatening, a Richmond Hill heart specialist said yesterday.

While not talking specifically about Gustavsson's personal situation, but talking in general terms about the kind of heart procedure the Maple Leafs goalie will go through tomorrow -- for the second time since September -- the heart specialist said there is only a 50% initial success rate in patients who have the cardiac ablation treatment. Quite often, he said, they need it a second time.

"Sometimes, this (procedure) can take three to six months to be effective," said Dr. Martin Richmond. "If it doesn't work (the first time), six months later they will attempt a second ablation. It is quite common (to need a second procedure).

"With an (professional) athlete, you might do it sooner than six months."

Dr. Richmond said when a patient gets an accelerated heart rate after the initial procedure, "you use electric shock" to bring the heart beat back to normal. Dr. Richmond also indicated, being clear that he has not diagnosed Gustavsson himself, that under normal circumstances this should not be a career threatening situation.

"Sometimes it can feel like your heart is coming out of your chest," said Richmond, which could explain Gustavsson, being doubled over in Montreal Wednesday night when trying to skate off the ice at the end of the first period.

STEVE.SIMMONS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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