First Heart-Brain Clinic in New Jersey Opens at Hackensack University Medical Center

Cardiology-Neurology Collaboration Designed to Prevent Second Strokes Among Individuals with PFO

Heart and Brain Center

Hackensack University Medical Center has established a Heart-Brain Clinic to evaluate and treat people with patent foramen ovale (PFO) who have had a stroke not due to other causes and who are at risk of a second stroke. The clinic is a collaboration between the medical center's renowned cardiology and neurology experts in one multidisciplinary program and is the first of its kind in New Jersey.

Closing the PFO through an interventional heart procedure can reduce the risk of a second stroke in people who had a first stroke. Only about 1% of patients with a PFO experience a stroke, however, and among those, not everyone needs to have the closure procedure. That's where the Heart-Brain Clinic comes in.

“Most PFOs are of no significance,” noted Martin S. Gizzi, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Cerebrovascular Diseases and the Comprehensive Stroke Center and vice chair, Department of Neurology at Hackensack University Medical Center and professor of Neurology at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. “We established this clinic 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 clinic enables patients to see a structural cardiologist and stroke neurologist during the same visit. The team meets four times a month and offers patients services such as: diagnostic confirmation of the stroke and its cause; evaluation to determine existence of a PFO; and treatment or monitoring of a PFO. The clinic will also be expanded to Hackensack Meridian JFK University Medical Center, which has a robust stroke care center.

Learn more about innovative neurological treatments at Hackensack University Medical Center.

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