The Structural Heart Program: A Regional Resource for Advanced Care

Since its inception in 2011, the Structural Heart Program at Cooper has earned a regional reputation for excellent outcomes and has led the way in clinical trials that advance minimally invasive and catheter-based procedures for patients with moderate to severe structural heart disease.

Sajjad A. Sabir, MD Director, Structural Heart Program

Sajjad A. Sabir, MD
Director, Structural Heart Program

“We began by treating aortic stenosis because that’s where the first nonsurgical or percutaneous treatment option became available for that particular disease entity,” says Sajjad A. Sabir, MD, Director of Cooper’s Structural Heart Program. “Since then, we have expanded our services to include the treatment of mitral valve disease and left atrial appendage closure.”

Loheetha Ragupathi, MD, FACC, was recently named Associate Director of the Structural Heart Program. Dr. Ragupathi joined Cooper and Cardiac Partners in 2019. Her passion for heart care, and advances in heart care therapy, make her a perfect fit for the role.

Cooper was the first hospital on the East Coast to participate in the pilot study for the WATCHMAN device and the first in the region to offer it once it became commercially available.

“By participating in clinical trials from the very beginning—and having excellent outcomes—Cooper has become the only hospital in the region to offer many of these therapies,” says Dr. Sabir. “And the formation of Cardiac Partners in 2017 made these services available to even more people in South Jersey.”

Loheetha Ragupathi, MD, FACC Associate Director, Structural Heart Program

Loheetha Ragupathi, MD, FACC Associate Director, Structural Heart Program

Cardiac Partners is a joint venture between Cooper and Inspira Health Network that integrates cardiac services between the two systems, providing patients with access to more coordinated and comprehensive cardiac services across the continuum of care. Although Cooper is the sole provider of structural heart services, the combination of services offered by the two systems makes Cardiac Partners the most extensive cardiac program in South Jersey.

The Cooper Structural Heart team offers a variety of options to treat diseases involving the heart’s tissue and valves, including alcohol septal ablation, atrial septal defect transcatheter repair, balloon valvuloplasty, transcatheter aortic valve replacement, the WATCHMAN device, and MitraClip®.

True to its pioneering roots, Cooper is currently the only hospital in the region to offer Amulet™ from Abbott Laboratories, the WaveCrest device from Johnson & Johnson, and WATCHMAN FLX (a second-generation WATCHMAN device) via clinical trials. All devices close the left atrial appendage to prevent stroke in patients with AFib. The devices eliminate the need for patients to take anticoagulants.

“We were the fourth site to be invited to participate in the Amulet trial worldwide, and we were the tenth highest enrollment site,” says Dr. Sabir.

Abbott Laboratories is conducting a second Amulet trial where they will expand indications for the device and, again, Cooper is the only site in the region invited to participate.

“That’s an attestation to the skill and excellence of the team we have assembled here,” says Dr. Sabir. “We collectively bring the most experience when it comes to these kinds of trials, and we are known for excellent outcomes.”

Dr. Sabir says that Cooper hopes to continue growing the Structural Heart Program and ensuring that it remains the region’s leading program.

“We want heart patients in our region to have the best and most advanced technology available to them right at home and in their own backyard,” says Dr. Sabir. “And we are dedicated to providing that care right here at Cooper.”

To refer a patient to the Structural Heart Program or for more information, please call 856.968.7812.

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