looking for info on heart issues

catnapt

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11+ yr old cat seen at vet today, new vet

vet said that she heard an  arrhythmia and she specifically mentioned PACs

she mentioned that the cat might have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and recommended a cardiac ultrasound and EKG

now I've never had a cat with heart issues, this is my friend's cat

I don't know what to tell her, but she's out of work and really can't afford to be getting tests that aren't totally necessary

If the cat has HCM, that would show up on an xray, I  believe? so why send the cat right off for the more expensive and traumatic ultrasound?

the cat is in good health otherwise, does not have any trouble breathing, runs and plays and eats well etc

I"ve tried googling PACs in cats and also HCM but haven't gotten past all  the basic info to find out WHY a vet would jump from a stressed cat who has a high heart rate and some PACs to a cat who could have HCM

anyone got any good links on info and/or forums for cats with cardiac issues?

any help greatly appreciated!

thanks

althea
 

pat

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We had an echo done on our Dee because of questions that it would answer, and knowing it would then allow us to be sure we had him on the right medications.  I surely empathize about the money, but if she has any option for a payment plan or assistance can be gotten, once it's done, she would have answers and know what the best course of treatment is.  I know that rates vary, but with the specialist we used it was $125 for the exam/consultation, $215 for the echocardiogram and $75 for the interpretation of the echo.

It has helped stablize our kitty, who we thought we'd lose this past Spring.

best wishes for your friend's kitty,
 
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catnapt

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Pat do you recall what the symptoms were or what it was that led your vet to believe that there was a heart issue in the first place?

obviously they do not do cardiac ultra sounds on every cat as a screening tool, they are far too expensive

This cat is healthy with absolutely no signs or symptoms of heart disease.

The vet seemed to be fairly 'alarmist' about other things, so it's our feeling (I went with her to the vet) that she's over stating the potential for a problem with this cat

the fee for the ultrasound and all isn't much when you know you have a sick cat, but for an otherwise healthy cat it seems a bit much.
 
 

pat

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It has been a muddle - with things evolving which don't seem connected to his initial issues (initial issues were both neurologic and gi - both of which resolved).  Along the way he ended up with extremely rapid respirations, which let to x-ray and a diagnosis of pneumonia.  He was treated and then relapsed into rapid breathing again - leading to an xray that showed among other things, an enlarged heart. (He was actually xrayed several times to check on the status of his pneumonia).

He also developed fluid around the lungs which required a tap (and thankfully, has never returned)..they went with a diagnosis of congestive heart failure at this point,  and we got the consult with a cardiologist, so we could best address that.  It is not an exaggeration to say no one expected him to still be here with us, let alone now have normal stools, gained weight, and to be the happy fellow he is.

I agree that if you aren't seeing any symptoms I might want to either get a second opinion, or just a consult w/out echo unless truly indicated as being needed.
 

aeevr

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HCM is one of the most common causes of sudden death in cats (meaning the cat showed no symptoms prior to death).
 

aswient

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My cat was diagnosed with HCM 4 years ago.  We brought him in for a UTI and they found he had a heart murmur.  We got him an ultra sound and they said he had an enlarged heart.  Couldn/t tell by looking at him at all.  Now he's on medications and is doing fine.
 

white shadow

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Originally Posted by catnapt  

anyone got any good links on info and/or forums for cats with cardiac issues?
Here you go:

"A place where members can discuss feline heart conditions and treatments. You are welcome whether your cat was just diagnosed, suddenly passed on, or if you just want to learn more about feline heart conditions. Started April 2000".....after 12 years and 2300+ members having participated, I'd say that's where you'll find the experts to whom to put all questions! (at least, that's where I'd be!)

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/feline-heart/

And...for reading, here's one of the better sites (from the woman who brings us the 'oracle' of kidney disease) http://harpsie.com/hypertrophic_cardiomyopathy.htm  Don't miss Helen's LINKS here http://harpsie.com/hypertrophic_cardiomyopathy.htm#HCM_websites
 

violet

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Originally posted by catnapt

I"ve tried googling PACs in cats and also HCM but haven't gotten past all the basic info to find out WHY a vet would jump from a stressed cat who has a high heart rate and some PACs to a cat who could have HCM
I posted three articles earlier today but I'm posting two of them for you again because they answer your question with detailed information but without unnecessary panic mongering. Please do read them.

http://www.vetstreet.com/care/cardiac-arrhythmia-in-cats

http://www.dcavm.org/cardiology2.pdf

And one more now from Vetinfo, also very important

http://www.vetinfo.com/heart-arrhythmia-cats.html

Having lost a cat that had absolutely no symptoms to HCM, I could never advise anyone with a clear conscience to do nothing if there is the slightest reason to wonder about the health of the heart. With our cat there was nothing. He even got through a dental a few weeks before he died without any problems. Only an ultrasound would have shown in time that he had heart disease. The way things turned out we only learned the facts after the necropsy.

Anyway, with arrhythmia, there are several things your friend can and should do before scheduling a heart ultrasound. And with any luck the other tests will provide the answers she needs to have.
 

flintmccullough

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I can tell you all about HCM, I have one. He was diagnosed at 10 months old. 2 Cardiologists said he would not live past 1 yr old, I said, find me another Cardologist, he was sent to UC Davis.  I also did extensive research on it, and talked to about a zillion breeders, vets and the Winn Foundation.  His was genetic, and it took me a whole year, to find where it came from, amidst death threats to me, death threats to him, even went to CFA.

Maine Coons and Ragdolls are prone to HCM. Its a genetic defect, and passed on by breeders who do not test, and spay/neuter positive cats.  Winn Foundation has been doing extensive research on it, and has identified, some, in the Ragdolls, but they really don't still know, where it comes from, not like Impressive, with HYPP.  Not every MC or RD is going to get it, and even a domestic cat can get it.

It can skip a generation, it can affect only one kitten in the litter, boys are more prone to it, but girls can get it too.

HCM is Hypertropic Cardiomyopathy.  The left ventrical does not pump the blood correctly, it lets in too much blood, or not enough. It should shut tight, like your front door, but instead, it swings, like a saloon door.

It is first diagnosed by the vet, when they listen to the heart, they detect a heart murmur. The vet can estimate the grade, in most cases, they usually get it right. Grades are 1 - 6, with 1 being moderate and 6 being severe.  The next step is to do an x-ray. The purpose of this, is to see, if the heart is enlarged, and, to see if there is fluid on the heart and/or lungs. That one, is not good.

Then they do a CBC and Wellness blood panel.  That shows the vet, if any values are not normal, and if there are other issues going on, best it be sent to Antech or Idexx, and not, done in house (at the vet).

Then the kitty is sent to a Cardiologist, who does an ultra sound. This is the only true way, to see, how enlarged the heart is, and to properly identify the actual grade, and determine the diagnosis and treatment.

Depending, on what they find, that determines what meds the kitty is put on.

Usually, they put the kitty on a blood thinner, this enables the heart to pump the blood better.  Usually its baby aspirin, 81 mgs, one every 3 days, but it depends on what they find.

They may put the kitty on Atenenol, which I can't spell, lol, the purpose of that, escapes me right now, and I am slowing finding it hard to type this post.

But there are many other meds, with many other purposes, depending on what they find, and what the kitties condition is.

If there is fluid, they may put the kitty on lasix, it makes the cat pee, it removes the fluid buildup, if there is some.

They may also put the kitty on a blood pressure med.

The meds, really, depend on the condition and diagnosis.

This is not an automatic death sentence, it is manageable, but like another poster said, there is no guarantee, and they can be fine one min, and the next, its all over.

The kitty is now a special needs kitty, and has a weakened immune system. Any not eating, any change in the health or how they are acting, is an immed trip to the vet. You cannot wait, you cannot diagnose and treat yourself, you have to take the kitty in.

You have to feed a grain free, by product free, gluten free, soy free, and most importantly LOW IN SALT.  You cannot risk the problems associated with feeding a grain food. Wet is better, you have to keep them flushed out, that too, is imperative. If one cannot feed wet, you need to mix 1 teaspoon Gerber baby food, chicken or turkey only, with water, so its like a broth, twice a day.

You have to keep the kitty stress free, if there is stress in the household, you need to eliminate it.

You **have** to be very involved and very aware, of what drugs your kitty is given, its your responsibily, you have to ask the vet, is this safe for an HCM kitty? Do not accept, probably or I don't know, make them look it up. Some meds given to a normal kitty, will kill a HCM kitty. Centrine is one, its an antispasmodic, similiar to pepto bismal, but it will kill a HCM kitty.

I lost him on Friday April 13 at 11am, in the ER. He was only 5 yrs old. He lived 4 yrs longer, than they said he would.  They called in a Critical Care Specialist and an ICU Specialist, just for him.  

He had thrown a clot, which is common, prob the most common. He could not use his back legs.  They said there is nothing more they can do.  He was in alot of pain, and he told me, it was time.

His situation was different, his was genetic, he was fighting a battle that could not be won.  Until that day, he was acting his normal self, running and playing, it happened that quickly, which is also common.   I don't want to get into a big discussion, about breeders, thats not what the poster asked about, only giving information, for those that might not know, or might want to know.  But if someone opens the door, not a good idea, I know what I went thru, and I am more, than prepared, to discuss it. 

I understand money is an issue for your friend, it is expensive to diagnose and treat.  She can ask the vet to do an x-ray, that is ballpark $85 plus the office visit, to see if his/her heart is enlarged and if there is fluid on the heart and lungs, its a place to start.  Hope this helps, I still cry about him, I got him when he was 8 weeks old.  Please don't hesitate, if you have any questions.  
    
 

violet

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When our cat died there was a fantastic, incredibly informative article on Google that I can no longer find. Among other things it talked about breed related predisposition. Our cat was a domestic short hair. According to the article, predisposed to HCM. Even the age when they usually die was a perfect match. The article gave me a great deal of comfort at a time when I didn't think I could find any comfort in any information about HCM.

However, to mention this was not the reason I came back to this thread. I would like to emphasize very strongly that the arrhythmia that was noticed in the OP's friend's kitty may not mean at all that there is anything wrong with the kitty's heart. This kitty may be perfectly healthy. The arrhythmia needs looking into, several possible underlying causes need to be ruled out before anyone can go onto the next step and start very seriously suspecting heart disease and begin diagnostics that deal directly with the heart.

However, having said all this, I can also say that the quickest, most definitive way to rule out HCM is an ultrasound. (Saying this from experience with our other cats.)

I hate the thought of unnecessarily worrying or upsetting the OP's friend but I also would like to say that certain things need to be done to find out what exactly is going on with the kitty.

(If I was in this situation I would say to myself with a big sigh that my work is cut out for me.)
 
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