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Feline Heartworm: Life Expectancy

Genchi, C., L. Venco, et al. (2008). “Feline heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) infection: A statistical elaboration of the duration of the infection and life expectancy in asymptomatic cats.” Vet Parasitol 158(3): 177-182.

Heartworm disease in the cat is caused by the nematode parasite, Dirofilaria immitis. Clinical signs in affected cats range from asymptomatic infections to chronic lower respiratory tract signs and chronic vomiting. Acute death without premonitory signs may also occur. This study, conducted in Italy, aimed to assess the duration and the outcome (self-cure or death) of feline heartworm infection and the life expectancy of infected cats. Of 43 asymptomatic cats included in the study, 34 (79%) self-cured and 9 (21%) died. Eleven (26%) cats remained asymptomatic and self cured within 21–48 months, 23 (53%) showed symptoms but self-cured within 18–49 months, 6 (14%) died within 8–41 months of follow-up and 3 (7%) suddenly died after 38–40 months. The probability for death increased significantly with age at diagnosis, but no difference was detected by gender, survival time after diagnosis, or the presence or absence of clinical signs. The results of this study indicate that cats with heartworm infection may live longer than cats with other common diseases, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or chronic renal failure.
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Related articles:
Litster, A. L. and R. B. Atwell (2008). “Feline heartworm disease: a clinical review.” J Feline Med Surg 10(2): 137-44.
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Lorentzen, L. and A. E. Caola (2008). “Incidence of positive heartworm antibody and antigen tests at IDEXX Laboratories: Trends and potential impact on feline heartworm awareness and prevention.” Vet Parasitol 158(3): 183-190.
>> PubMed Abstract