Heart and Vascular Hospital at HackensackUMC Offers New Treatment for Most Common Heart Valve Problem

HackensackUMC is among the first hospitals in New Jersey to use the MitraClip®system for people with severe mitral valve regurgitation (MR). Pictured are Carlos E. Ruiz, M.D., director, Structural and Congenital Heart Center and patient Frances Addeo. ©

For more than two years, Frances Addeo suffered from a leaky heart valve.  And, the physical effects it caused were slowly getting worse.

“It was affecting my oxygen and I couldn’t breathe,” said Frances. “I would walk a block and I would be huffing and puffing.  I couldn’t continue to go the way I was going.  I had no life.  For instance, cleaning my house used to take an hour and a half, but as I got sicker, it would take me a couple of days to clean. I would have to sit down and rest repeatedly.”

Frances was diagnosed with having severe mitral valve regurgitation (MR), the most common type of heart valve disorder, which affects nearly one in 10 people aged 75 years and older — or approximately four million people – in the United States.   The condition occurs when the valve separating the left upper collection chamber and left lower pumping chamber of the heart does not close properly. As a result, blood flows backward into the left upper collecting chamber of the heart, decreasing the blood flow to the rest of the body, making the heart work harder. This puts additional strain on the heart and raises the risk for stroke and heart failure.

Doctors suggested that Frances have open heart surgery to repair the valve.  But, Frances, who turns 80 this year, has had more than her share of prior surgeries for various other conditions not cardiac related and, did not want to have yet another invasive procedure, let alone open heart surgery.

“I wanted to see if I could be treated in any other way.”

Frances was referred to Carlos E. Ruiz, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Structural and Congenital Heart Center at the Heart and Vascular Hospital, at HackensackUMC, a member of Hackensack Meridian Health. Dr. Ruiz is one of the pioneers in developing Structural Heart Disease treatment, which is the ability to correct major heart abnormalities using percutaneous catheter techniques that avoid open heart surgery.  Dr. Ruiz said Frances was a candidate for a new, minimally invasive procedure to treat MR utilizing the Abbott MitraClip®.   HackensackUMC is among the first hospitals in New Jersey and one in only a handful of hospitals in the New York metropolitan area to use the MitraClip system for people with severe MR for whom open heart surgery is considered too risky.

“Frances had severe MR, and was suffering from advanced heart failure,” said Dr. Ruiz. “As soon as we put in the clip, the degree of the MR substantially decreased. The results are instantaneous, and we can see the improvement immediately during the procedure. When she woke up, Frances noticed she was breathing better.”

The MitraClip is a permanent implant device inserted through a blood vessel in the groin (femoral vein) to the heart, which continues to beat during the procedure and does not require the heart-lung bypass machine, which is common for open-heart surgery.  The device is guided to the mitral valve where it grasps the “leaflets” to improve valve closure and reduce the backflow of blood.  This allows the heart to pump blood more efficiently and relieves the symptoms of MR, which include shortness of breath, fatigue, cough, and swelling of the feet or ankles.

Dr. Ruiz says the procedure took less than one hour and Frances spent only one night in the hospital. Within a couple of weeks after the procedure, Frances said she could feel a major improvement in the quality of her life.

“I am a lot better than before I had MR. I can cook without having to sit down every two minutes. I was able to decorate the inside of my house myself for the holidays and was able to take down everything myself as well.  I am doing a lot better than before the clip. And, I am absolutely delighted that I didn’t have to have open heart surgery.”

MitraClip, approved by the FDA in October 2013, is the world’s first percutaneous mitral valve repair therapy for select patients with severe MR.

“We are proud to offer our patients this minimally invasive option for mitral valve repair,” said Joseph E. Parrillo, M.D., chair of the Heart and Vascular Hospital at HackensackUMC. “With the MitraClip system, patients typically experience a shorter hospital stay and recover faster. After the procedure, patients often have fewer hospitalizations for heart failure and notice an improvement in their symptoms.”

“HackensackUMC’s Heart and Vascular Hospitalcontinues to offer cutting-edge treatments in cardiac care that result in life-changing outcomes for our patients,” said Lisa Tank, M.D., vice president of Medical Affairs and chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine at HackensackUMC.“The addition of the MitralClip system further strengthens our already comprehensive cardiac program, led by our multidisciplinary team, giving patients access to the safest and most advanced treatments availableto improve their quality of life and decrease hospitalizations.”


HackensackUMC is among the first hospitals in New Jersey to use the MitraClip®system for people with severe mitral valve regurgitation (MR). Carlos E. Ruiz, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Structural and Congenital Heart Center at the Heart and Vascular Hospital, at HackensackUMC (left) recently performed the minimally invasive procedure on his patient, Frances Addeo (right), who suffered from severe MR.

About Hackensack University Medical Center

HackensackUMC, a 775-bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is a member of Hackensack Meridian Health, one of the largest networks in the state comprised of 28,000 team members and more than 6,000 physicians. HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey in U.S. News & World Report’s 2016-17 Best Hospital rankings – maintaining its place atop the NJ rankings since the rating system was introduced. It was also named one of the top four New York Metro Area hospitals. HackensackUMC is one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more years in a row. The medical center is one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 25 Gold Seals of Approval™ by The Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. HackensackUMC has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: the John Theurer Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center and listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. HackensackUMC is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and is Official Medical Services Provider to The Northern Trust PGA Golf Tournament. The HackensackUMC Foundation’s Tackle Kids Cancer initiative is an official partner of Madison Square Garden, the NY Knicks, the NY Liberty, and Radio City Music Hall, and proudly partners with the Garden of Dreams Foundation. HackensackUMC remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events.