Heart Muscle Diseases

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Heart Muscle Diseases - Cardiomyopathy

Diseases of the heart muscle are more common than valvular diseases in cats and in some large breed dogs. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the second most common form of canine heart disease. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common form of feline heart disease.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (Dcm)

This condition affects relatively young pets, usually under seven years old, sometimes as young as two years of age. In Cocker spaniels it may be associated with hypothyroidism, a condition in which the pet's immune system attacks its own thyroid gland resulting in diminished thyroid hormone production. DCM may also be immune system-associated in the Doberman.

Affected pets are lethargic and tire easily from routine exercise. There is often visible weight loss. Your pet may develop a cough, especially at night. As congestive heart failure develops, fluid may build up in lungs (pulmonary oedema) and/or in the belly (ascites) causing the abdomen to distend. Most pets go off their food and are easily fatigued. Both Boxers and Dobermanns may die suddenly without previous signs of ill health.

Treatment

Individuals are treated for congestive heart failure. Diuretics such as spironolactone diminish the buildup of fluid in the lungs and abdomen while pimobendan improves cardiac function and circulation.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

This mostly feline condition causes a thickening of the heart wall. It usually affects the bottom of the heart, the ventricles. As the muscle thickens, it reduces the space inside the heart for blood. The most common clinical sign is reduced exercise tolerance. While the heart rate, rhythm and sounds may be normal when a pet is resting, the rate suddenly increases with exercise. Diagnosis is made with echocardiography. Treatment with diltiazem appears to prolong life expectancy.

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