Routine Heart Screening Saves a Life

There is nothing scarier than going for a routine checkup and finding out you have a life-threatening condition That’s exactly what happened to Brigantine police officer Chris Hurst.

He came to Deborah for a routine cardiac and pulmonary screening as part of “A Gift from Captain Buscio” program, a specialty half-day courtesy screening offered to New Jersey police officers and firefighters, in order to provide early detection for the brave men and women working the front lines in public service.

Taking a Closer Look

“I met with Dr. Sena for my initial consult and testing,” recalls Chris. “I thought everything was fine, until he said, ‘I think you need to come back for further tests.'”

The 42-year-old father of two was surprised, but not worried. An avid boater, cyclist and sportsman who enjoys vigorous outside play with his children, Chris felt in the peak of health. Subsequent testing and a catheterization proved otherwise.

“We found that Chris had an atrial septal defect (ASD), which is a hole in the atrial septum, the wall that normally separates the left and right atrium,” explains Richard Kovach, M.D., Chair of Deborah’s Interventional Cardiology Program. “There was blood moving across this defect from the left to the right side of the heart, and we needed to repair the ASD before he had serious consequences. So much blood was moving across the septum that, if left untreated, the patient was likely to develop pulmonary hypertension [elevated blood pressure in the lungs that, if present long enough, can be irreversible] and eventual failure of the right side of the heart.”

“I felt confident in the staff at Deborah,” notes Chris, “but, honestly, I was scared.”

Expert Cardiovascular Care

Dr. Kovach performed the two-hour, minimally invasive procedure in the cath lab quickly and efficiently to close the hole in Chris’s heart.

Peace of Mind for First Responders

“I’m happy we were able to repair the ASD with a sophisticated minimally invasive procedure,” adds Dr. Kovach. “Especially for a young man such as Chris, who takes good care of his health and enjoys an active lifestyle. If the ASD hadn’t been detected, Chris faced some potentially devastating consequences, but now he should have a normal, healthy life.”
“I can’t thank Deborah enough,” says Chris. “I’m so happy that they caught this condition and were able to make the repair. I urge everyone I meet to make sure they take their health seriously and get screened.”