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Date Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Westchester Medical Center’s Fast-Growing Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) Program Receives Prestigious Recognition as National Center of Excellence

Westchester Medical Center is the only recognized Center of Excellence north of New York City and is among the nation’s most comprehensive programs

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VALHALLA, N.Y. (February 5, 2018) – The Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy program at Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), was recently awarded the prestigious Center of Excellence recognition from the national Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association (HCMA). Westchester Medical Center is one of only 29 institutions in the country to receive this honor for its fully comprehensive, patient-centered program for patients suffering from the hereditary condition.

“Westchester Medical Center is honored to receive the Center of Excellence recognition from the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association in recognition of our one-of-a-kind Hudson Valley program,” said Srihari S. Naidu, MD, Director of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy at Westchester Medical Center. “Our program offers a one-stop-shop to patient care, with 24/7 access to our dedicated team of expert HCM physicians and staff, not only for people in our region, but for patients across the country who come to Westchester Medical Center to receive the very best HCM care.”

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a disease that results in thickening of the heart wall. This causes a progressive decrease in the amount of blood leaving the heart, and can cause abnormal rhythms that can lead to sudden death. The condition affects at least 1 in 300 individuals across all age groups, genders and races. A hereditary disease transmitted to half of all family members, the condition has received widespread attention in recent decades due to dramatic stories of youth, who, unaware of their condition, pass out or even die unexpectedly, sometimes during intense activity.

The Center of Excellence standing recognizes Westchester Medical Center’s HCM program for providing comprehensive diagnostic, treatment, education and research programs. Centers honored with this recognition meet a stringent set of criteria, including offering interventional, pediatric, electrophysiology, high quality imaging, heart failure/heart transplantation and cardiac surgical services, as well as demonstrating the ability to accommodate patients and families who travel long distances for care.

Westchester Medical Center’s one-of-a-kind HCM program

Westchester Medical Center’s HCM program, part of WMCHealth’s Heart and Vascular Institute, is unique in that it has the capabilities to perform all services associated with HCM – from alcohol septal ablation to myectomy surgery, echocardiography to cardiac MRI, electrophysiology testing to pediatric cardiology, and genetic testing to heart transplantation – all conducted by physicians who are experts in HCM care, and all without the need for referral relationships to outside institutions. “Our program is one of only a handful nationally with all of the necessary diagnostic and therapeutic options available for both adults and children, all under one roof,” said Julio A. Panza, MD, Chief of Cardiology at Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). Dr. Panza is an expert in HCM, having published several pivotal articles in the medical literature on this disease for the last three decades.

Another unique aspect of WMCHealth’s program compared to other centers is high-volume expertise in a minimally invasive procedure known as alcohol septal ablation (ASA), an alternative to surgical myectomy (muscle removal) in older or higher risk patients with obstruction to left ventricular outflow. Dr. Naidu, who spent more than a dozen years as a leader in the ASA technique and built a national reputation in the field, recently started the program at Westchester Medical Center. The ASA technique aims to precisely target and kill the abnormally obstructing muscle on contact by injecting pure 98% alcohol directly into the area, using the heart’s own blood supply as a conduit.

HCM patients have worsening cardiac dysfunction and resultant heart failure due to the thickened heart muscle, with symptoms that include shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling in the legs, angina, and frequent lightheadedness or passing out. In the majority of patients, obstruction to blood flow leaving the heart is the critical contributor to these symptoms. Both ASA and surgical myectomy, an open-heart procedure to directly remove the obstructing myocardium, are performed routinely at Westchester Medical Center.

The program is the only one of its kind in the Hudson Valley and anywhere north of New York City, and it includes a full-service satellite office in Long Island. It also has the most cumulative experience in ASA throughout the tri-state area, including Manhattan. Dr. Naidu has treated over 1,000 HCM patients throughout his career. The program has seen over 300 patients, and performed 25 ASA’s and 14 myectomies so far in its first year, making it one of the fastest growing and most comprehensive programs in the country.

WMCHealth’s Heart and Vascular Institute is a multi-specialty cardiac and vascular services practice dedicated to providing comprehensive, high-quality care to the residents of the Hudson Valley and beyond. The Institute brings together many of the nation’s best physicians in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, cardiothoracic surgery and pediatric cardiovascular services practicing in state-of-the-art facilities across the Hudson Valley.

About the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association
The HCMA, founded in 1996, is a 501(c)(3) organization operating out of Denville, NJ that provides support, advocacy, and education to patients, families and the medical community about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) while supporting research and fostering the development of treatments. The HCMA has provided services to over 10,000 HCM families representing more than 40,000 individuals affected, or potentially affected, by HCM. Through the use of strict criteria, the HCMA has evaluated and recognized Centers of Excellence across the country in order to ensure quality care and improved outcomes for HCM patients. For more information about the HCMA, visit