Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a primary myocardial disease wherein the heart muscle is damaged.

The myocytes (muscle cells) become markedly thickened and replicate in a non-uniform pattern.

This causes the ventricle (pumping chamber) to become severely thickened, which reduces the chamber size for blood.  

This disease is characterized by a diastolic (filling) failure.  

This causes the left atrium to dilate as it is unable to push the blood into the small left ventricular chamber.  

This eventually can lead to the development of congestive heart failure (fluid in the lungs), which is a medical emergency that makes breathing very difficult.  

This disease is typically progressive; however, the rate of progression is highly variable.  

Recheck echocardiograms are necessary to monitor the rate of change, chamber sizes, and determine if any medications or adjustments are indicated.

Once the left atrium has dilated, affected patients are at an increased risk for thromboembolic disease.  

This is when a blood clot forms within the left atrium or auricle, which can dislodge and go to various points within the body.  

The most common location is the distal aorta (often termed a “saddle thrombus”), which supplies the rear limbs with blood.  

When this happens, affected patients are very painful, the limbs cool to touch, and the legs are typically non-functional.  

The right front leg is the second most common location.  Any other clinical signs are determined by the site of the clot lodging.  This could include sudden death if the brain were to be affected by this.  

Anti-platelet medications are utilized to minimize the chances of this developing; however, no medications are 100% effective in preventing this condition.

Plavix has been recently shown by the FAT CAT study to be the most effective antiplatelet medication in our feline friends.  

If you notice any clinical signs or leg weakness, consider it a medical emergency.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a primary myocardial disease wherein the heart muscle is damaged and becomes very weak.  

The left ventricle dilates and has a marked systolic dysfunction (pump dysfunction).  

This causes an elevation in left ventricular and left atrial pressures as the poorly pumping chamber continues to dilate.  

Eventually, this results in dilation of the left atrium and fluid accumulation within the lungs (congestive heart failure).  

This makes breathing difficult and requires urgent medical attention.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease.  

Ongoing rechecks and medical management are utilized to maximize the quality of life for affected patients.  

The disease progression is variable, with some patients doing well for years and others progressing into congestive heart failure rapidly.  

This disease is also frequently associated with the development of arrhythmias (abnormal electrical beats) that can predispose affected patients to sudden death.

Additional diagnostics, such as 24 hour Holter Monitors, may be recommended based on our initial findings.  

If any clinical signs of arrhythmias such as a “dazed” appearance or collapse are noted, please contact your trusted veterinarian or your local emergency clinic immediately.

Chronic Valve Disease in Dogs

Chronic Valve Disease in Dogs

Myxomatous Mitral Valve Degeneration (i.e. Chronic Valve Disease or Endocardiosis) is a chronic, degenerative disease of the mitral valve (62% of affected patients have only mitral valve changes).

The normally thin and delicate valve leaflets are damaged and the tissue replaced with a thickened, non-pliable tissue.  

This causes the valve leaflets to become thickened, irregular, and have poor coaptation (closure).  

This poor coaptation allows reverse blood flow (left ventricle into left atrium), which is termed regurgitation or insufficiency.  

This disease is progressive and unfortunately, there is no cure.  

Routine rechecks are required to monitor for any changes to the left atrium or ventricle that may warrant additional testing or direct medical management of this disease.  

Eventually, this disease can lead to the development of congestive heart failure (fluid in the lungs), which is a medical emergency that makes breathing very difficult.  

This disease can also affect the tricuspid valve (right side of the heart) and cause similar problems.  

One study indicates 32.5% of cases have concurrent mitral and tricuspid valve degeneration.  This study indicated 1.3% of affected patients have only tricuspid valve changes.

Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

Left-Sided congestive heart failure occurs when the pressure in the blood vessels in the lungs increases causing fluid to leak from the vessels into the surrounding lung tissue.  

Right-Sided congestive heart failure is a similar process where the fluid accumulates within the pleural space (around the lungs) or the abdomen (ascites).  

This condition makes it difficult to exchange oxygen causing difficulty breathing, increased respiratory rate or effort, coughing, cyanosis (blue color to gums or tongue), and/or weakness and/or collapse with exertion.  

Congestive heart failure in dogs is a life threatening condition and your pet should be evaluated as soon as signs are noted, which may require an emergency hospital visitation.