VCA Animal Hospitals

New test helps diagnose heart disease in cats

Published: Aug 07, 2012

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Heart disease is a common condition in cats and is believed to be one of the most common causes of death among middle-aged felines, a veterinary cardiologist recently told the Chicago Tribune.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, cardiomyopathy is the most common type of feline heart disease and there are three forms.  They are: hypertrophic, dilated, and intermediate or restrictive cardiomyopathy. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which involves an abnormal thickening of the heart, is the most common form of heart disease in cats.

Cat owners should know that many animals do not show signs of illness in the early stages of disease.

Often cats will alter their activity levels to those that they can cope with, which make it difficult to diagnose cardiomyopathy until it is quite advanced," veterinarian Dr. Ernest Ward told VCA Animal Hospitals.

Signs your veterinarian may detect, according to WebMD Pets, include increased heart or respiratory rate or heart murmurs in cats.  Cats with heart disease will often exhibit clinical signs of decreased appetite and weight loss.

As the disease progresses, cats may also develop congestive heart failure, thromboembolic disease and hypertension.

Diagnosing this cat illness often involves chest x-rays, cardiac ultrasound and electrocardiography (ECG). However, the Chicago Tribune reports that some owners refuse additional tests for their cats because of the cost.

According to the newspaper, experts have developed a simple blood test to assist in the diagnosis of HCM in cats. The proBNP test - or Cardiopet test - offers owners a less expensive way to get a diagnosis in their pets.

This test will help cat owners determine whether their pet is suffering from respiratory illness or heart disease, as they both have similar clinical signs.
While negative results will likely put owners at ease, a positive one will require further testing, such as a cardiac ultrasound, to determine the prognosis.

It's also important to note that genetic research has determined that HCM is more prevalent in two breeds - the Ragdoll and Maine Coon.  Vets may be more likely to suggest aggressive testing when these animals present with common clinical signs of heart disease.

Like in humans, there are several different types of drugs that can be used to treat heart disease in cats. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, they include diuretics, beta-blockers, calcium channel-blockers, aspirin, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and drugs to lower blood pressure.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.