Hackensack Meridian Health opens New Jersey's 1st specialty center for common heart disorder

Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center, part of Hackensack Meridian Health, has opened a heart and brain center for stroke patients with patent foramen ovale, a small hole in the heart. 

The condition, known as PFO, affects as many as 1 in 4 people. It leads to stroke in about 1 percent of patients, with an interventional procedure to close the hole only necessary for a portion of patients whose stroke was not due to other causes. The interventional procedure is meant to prevent patients from experiencing a second stroke. 

"Most PFOs are of no significance," said Martin Gizzi, MD, PhD, director of the division of cerebrovascular diseases and comprehensive stroke center at the hospital.

"We established this center to formally bring together heart and brain specialists to examine each patient, discuss their test results, and determine the best course of action for people with PFO who have had a stroke. It's not appropriate to close the PFO in everyone who has one, so we have to be selective." 

The center, which has been running for several months, allows patients to see a structural cardiologist and stroke neurologist in the same visit, according to a Sept. 27 news release. The team offers diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment or monitoring services. 

The health system also plans to expand the center to Hackensack Meridian JFK University Medical Center in Edison, N.J. 

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