Ventricular premature complexes may be due to numerous etiologies, which includes; cardiac disease, pericardial effusion, metabolic disease and electrolyte disturbances, tickborne disease, fever, pain, anemia, altered autonomic tone, trauma, sepsis, DIC, splenic disease, hepatic disease, gastrointestinal disease, and pheochromocytoma.
Additional diagnostics with these general differentials may be indicated based on this patient’s clinical presentation and examination.
Atrial premature complexes are often the result of atrial dilation (left or right); however, additional considerations would be mechanical irritation (perihilar lymph node enlargement, atrial/auricular mass, heart base tumor, pericardial disease, etc.), infectious/tick-borne disease, metabolic disturbances, or potentially altered autonomic tone (sympathetic/parasympathetic imbalance).
This rhythm is fortunately not considered fatal in itself. If atrial dilation is the underlying etiology, your pet may go into atrial fibrillation in the future.
Antiarrhythmic therapy may be indicated based on the frequency and grade of atrial arrhythmias noted on the ECG.
Atrial fibrillation is a condition where the atrium (top chambers of the heart) are no longer allowing organized electrical activity.
Rather, there is a random oscillation of electrical waves that do not allow the atrium to contract as they should.
The Atrioventricular Node (AV Node) responds to this haphazard electrical activity in a very irregular and rapid pattern, causing a very irregular, rapid heart (pulse or ventricular response) rate.
This condition is typically the result of severely dilated chambers. This condition can rarely be corrected; however, the ventricular response rate can be lowered to a reasonable level with medications, frequently the combination of Digoxin and Diltiazem.
Continued rechecks and monitoring for adequate heart rate control are essential to ensure these patients remain at an optimal heart rate and do not develop congestive heart failure (fluid in the lungs).