The leading cause of sudden cardiac death in children and young adults is due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The Pediatric Center for Heart Disease and the Gregory M. Hirsch Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center of the Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital has partnered with The Hirsch Foundation to champion the diagnosis, treatment and education of families and medical professionals concerning genetic cardiac issues. Diagnosis, treatment and education have occurred through financial support of genetic testing, screenings in high schools, sponsorship of a dedicated HCM conference and a close partnership with the Bergen County (NJ) Medical Examiner's Office in developing a standard protocol for the evaluation and autopsy of children who die suddenly.
Through the Center's unique patient/family-centered approach, they have successfully managed several hundred families with genetic cardiomyopathies. Their collaborative efforts have directly aided in the assistance of many families with this genetic condition. The Hirsch HCM Center is unique because it is one of only a few hypertrophic cardiomyopathy centers in the United States that manages both adult and pediatric patients, and is directed by a pediatric cardiologist within the pediatric division of a medical center.
Our physicians have lectured extensively throughout the nation and authored several scholarly papers focusing on various aspects of how to potentially prevent or address an episode of sudden cardiac arrest. They have appeared on or contributed to a number of national and local media programs to advocate for sudden death awareness and education. These programs have included: Fox News, Sirius Radio, The Today Show (NBC) and Steve Adubato (WNET).
Due to the unwavering advocacy of our HCM Center clinicians, a number of legislative resolutions or laws have been enacted throughout the State of New Jersey. Some include the State of New Jersey Legislature, through a Joint Resolution, designating the last week of May of each year, as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Awareness Week. Also, a recent law in the State of New Jersey, "Janet's Law," requires public schools to have automated external defibrillators (AED) for youth athletic events and to establish certain plans relating to sudden cardiac events. The law also requires a minimum of five (5) teachers and/or coaches be certified in AED use and CPR. HCM Center and Department Chief, Robert Tozzi, M.D. and Associate Chief, George Kipel, M.D. have written an article for New Jersey Pediatrics, a statewide pediatric professional journal, explaining the benefits, responsibilities and practical implications of the law. Our physicians have also contributed to a State and Federal program, titled, The Sudden Death in the Young (SDY) Registry.