Morristown’s expansion shows how N.J. hospitals are focusing on cardiac conditions

Almost half — 42%, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — of Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older are walking around with what can be an unfortunate ticking time-bomb: heart conditions.

So, it’s no wonder heart care remains the lifeblood of New Jersey’s top medical centers.

Considering that one in four deaths in America each year can still be attributed to heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s a major issue. But the local hospitals focused on this area, such as Morristown Medical Center and its Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute, aren’t losing heart.

Atlantic Health System’s Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute is a heart-focused medical center and more equipped than ever in terms of size and cutting-edge treatment offerings.

In fact, New Jersey’s heart-focused medical centers are more equipped than ever — in terms of size and cutting-edge treatment offerings — to deal with these prevalent issues. 

Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center, which is home to the largest cardiology program in the state and the No. 26-ranked program in the country by U.S. News & World Report, just underwent an expansion that the center’s president, Trish O’Keefe, says was vital to meeting health care needs of Jerseyans

“As the population ages, there is going to be more of a need for cardiovascular care,” she said. “While we anticipate the trend will continue for the delivery of more outpatient care, we still have a core need for inpatient beds as all services expand.”

The Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute opened the second of two new 36-bed units for patients with heart disease, completing a planned two-story expansion. The dedicated heart hospital now has 180 beds total.

The institute’s work on cardiovascular disorders is offered throughout the Atlantic Health System network, and it handles some complex disorders and diseases of the heart. And it’s not just patients age 65 and up who benefit.

Besides having pediatric cardiology services for infants, children and adolescents with heart diseases, the heart specialists at Atlantic also engage young athletes in a Sports Cardiology program that’s helping some sometimes-overlooked heart issues.

A treatment room at the Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute.

Morristown Medical Center’s Chanin T. Mast Center for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy was the state’s first program to specifically care for patients either diagnosed with or suspected of having hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can afflict one in 500 people in the country — who can be of any age.

“Because of its symptoms — shortness of breath, chest pain or fainting, especially during exercise, rapid, fluttering or pounding heartbeats, or a heart murmur — diagnosing (this condition) can be difficult and treating it can be complex,” O’Keefe said. “The center provides patients convenient access to specialists, individualized, coordinated multidisciplinary evaluation, imaging and diagnostics, and the latest in devices and treatment options. Our team can also provide education and community outreach to help protect young athletes from sudden cardiac death.”

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Reach the Morristown Medical Center at 973-971-5000.