Cardiomyopathy is the most common form of heart disease in cats. It is also the term that relates to any disease of the heart or surrounding muscle.
Unfortunately, heart disease in cats is quite common. It’s a serious problem as it prevents the heart from working properly, which can be fatal.
Certainly, it’s important for pet professionals to have an understanding of feline heart disease, the possible causes and potential treatments. With this knowledge you can help educate pet owners and clients and promote the importance of routine veterinary consultations.
While an annual check-up won’t prevent heart disease, early diagnosis helps ensure the best possible outcome.
Cardiomyopathies are divided in three or four classifications:
Hypertrophic — According to International Cat Care, this is the most common form of heart disease in felines. It refers to the thickening of the heart muscles. It obstructs the blood flow and leads to poor heart function.
Dilated — This is where the heart muscle is weak and the muscle walls are thin and floppy. As a result, the heart muscle cannot contract effectively.
Restrictive or unclassified — In the third type of cardiomyopathy the heart muscle is unable to fill and pump due to the heart wall becoming stiff and inflexible.
If heart disease develops in relation to a taurine deficiency, high blood pressure or overactive thyroid it may be possible to treat the underlying cause. For example, taurine or l-carnitine supplementation may be considered and anti-hypertensive drugs may be prescribed to treat high blood pressure.
It’s common for diuretics to be given to remove excess fluid build-up, as well as providing a low-salt diet.
However, if heart failure develops as a result of the heart disease medication may be prescribed. Drugs for heart failure include beta-blockers, a calcium-channel blocker (Diltiazem) or ACE-inhibitors.
Indeed, despite the fact that heart disease in cats is fairly common, it is difficult to pick up on. Therefore, pet professionals can advise owners on the warning signs. You can also promote cat health by reminding pet parents of the importance of regular vet check-ups, including a heart check.
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