A Echo Is A Movie About The Heart...

Dr. Striyle explains in detail what a echocardiogram is and how it can help your cat.

How do heart issues impact the health and well-being of my cat?

Cats are often the best at masking clinical illness, even from those humans they are closest with and whom they trust the most.  Which means, cats can develop pretty significant heart disease without showing any outward clinical signs.  And this is unfortunate because, by the time heart disease is often diagnosed in a cat, it is quite advanced.  Or, at worse, a cat will pass away suddenly, leaving families devastated and confused.

What preventive measures do veterinarians recommend to help avoid feline cardiology issues?

For our kitty cat friends, regular veterinary check ups (annually to semi-annually) ALONG WITH regular blood testing that includes a heart enzyme marker, proBNP as well as thyroid testing.

What are some signs and symptoms of cat heart issues, and what problems can they cause?

Cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, heart murmurs, irregular heart beats, enlarged heart, heart attacks are all symptoms of heart disease but SIGNS of heart disease in cats can often be NOTHING at all until sudden death occurs. Sometimes a car will have trouble breathing or show signs of exercise intolerance. But, unfortunately, initial clinical signs of heart disease in cats are often elusive, leaving us relying on blood testing and physical exams to help identify heart disease in cats.

Why it is important to avoid self-diagnosing heart problems in your cat?

Because it's impossible.  It takes diagnostic testing including physical exams, blood testing, ECG and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).  Sometimes x-rays are helpful, often, though, they are not.

How will a veterinarian diagnose heart issues in my cat?

Physical exam, blood testing that includes checking thyroid levels as well as the cardiac enzyme, proBNP, blood pressure, ECG and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).  Sometimes x-rays are helpful as well, but not always.

What is a veterinary cardiology “work up”?

A blood pressure, and EKG, and the actual Echo is the 'work up.' The images captured during the echo are sent to a specialist in feline/canine hearts, and they write up a report and send it back to us.

What are some possible treatments or procedures for a cat with heart issues?

It really depends on what type of heart disease your cat has, how severe it is and what, if any, other diseases are present.  Often, it's older cats that develop heart disease and these cats often have underlying kidney and/ or thyroid disease as well.  Sometimes it's a matter of  controlling the other underlying diseases. Other times, there are specific medications that are needed.

Why is early detection and diagnosis so important for cat heart problems?

Because, sometimes, the only clinical sign of emerging heart disease in a cat is sudden death.  The earlier heart disease is diagnosed, the better chance we have of controlling the disease and decreasing the chances of heart failure or sudden death.  And, we increase not only the longevity of a cat's life, but also their quality of life.  Just because they don't show clinical signs doesn't mean they don't feel poorly.

Give us a call if you have concerns about your kitty's heart health!