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Heart disease in cats

Nakamura RK, Rishniw M, King MK and Sammarco CD. Prevalence of echocardiographic evidence of cardiac disease in apparently healthy cats with murmurs. J Feline Med Surg. 2011; 13: 266-71.

(c) OBRA Comunicacao

Diagnostic decision-making can be a challenge for veterinary clinicians when presented with an apparently healthy adult cat with a heart murmur. Murmurs can be associated with cardiac disease, though studies have also identified benign causes of murmurs in cats. Auscultation alone will not differentiate the cause of the murmur and additional diagnostics are required. Feline murmurs can be inducible (apparent only upon physical provocation such as stress, fear, or pain) or non-inducible (continuously present). A high percentage of cats with inducible murmurs appear to have no evidence of structural heart disease. This study looked at 32 privately owned cats that were considered healthy based upon history and physical examination except for a heart murmur on auscultation. The authors found that 53% of these apparently healthy cats evaluated for a heart murmur had echocardiographic evidence of cardiac disease. Most of these cats had left ventricular concentric hypertrophy (LVCH) with a small minority identified with degenerative mitral valve disease. The cause of the murmur could not be determined in 50% of the cats. Therefore, based on this study, the presence of a murmur in an apparently healthy cat has an approximately equal chance of having a physiological cause versus being associated with cardiac disease. [VT]

Related articles:
Dirven MJ, Cornelissen JM, Barendse MA, van Mook MC and Sterenborg JA. Cause of heart murmurs in 57 apparently healthy cats. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd. 2010; 135: 840-7.