Cardiology / Heart

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Heart disease can be complex to investigate and can often require the use of a number of different tools.

Initially the most important thing is the use of a stethoscope.– so we can try and locate the position of murmurs more accurately. The use of the stethoscope is also combined with a full physical examination to look for any other signs of associated problems – weak pulse, poor mucous membrane colour, fluid building up in the abdomen, enlarged livers etc.

A blood test may then be helpful – not only to look for changes in enzymes relating to the heart (just like in man) but also to check for other problems. For example one common cause for cats to develop heart problems is because of excessive production of thyroid hormones.

X-Rays of the chest can provide a lot of information about how well the heart is coping, not only by looking at the heart’s size and shape – but also by looking at secondary effects. Are the lungs more fluid filled than normal? If the heart starts to fail back, pressure can develop and the lungs can become oedematous and more dense. In addition as the heart enlarges pressure on the windpipe can cause changes, which can also contribute to coughing. Similarly backpressure from failure of the other side of the heart can cause the liver to become enlarged, which may also be seen on the x-ray.

Many pets diagnosed with heart problems, can now benefit from medication, which are routinely available. We also may offer referral to a colleague who specialises in this area of veterinary medicine. There is not one simple approach to “Heart Disease”, our vets at will discuss the best approach for your pet and for you. Together we will make the choice about investigations, treatment and follow-up monitoring in order to suit your pet’s needs and your budget. The most important thing is to feel free to discuss the options with our vets – together we all want to do the best we can for your pet’s health.

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