Heart problems cat
Your cat has been diagnosed with a heart problem. In some cases, no therapy is needed and we keep a close eye on your cat. But it may be that it is better for your cat's health to institute therapy.
Below you will find information about the heart and heart problems:
What is and what does the heart do?
The heart is a muscle that is hollow and pumps blood around. It consists of two chambers and two atria. Mammals, such as cats and humans, have a small and a large circulatory system. In the small one, blood is pumped to the lungs, after which oxygen is taken in. In the heart, the large circulatory system pumps the oxygen-rich blood throughout the body to oxygenate all cells to the furthest reaches.
The heart wall is composed of four layers: the endocardium (the inner lining), the myocardium (the muscle layer of the heart), the epicardium (the membrane) and, as the outermost layer, the pericardium (the pericardium). Pumping out blood is an active process; the heart muscle contracts (systole). Systole is followed by the relaxation and rest phase (in which the muscle cells 'recharge' themselves for the next contraction), diastole.
During diastole, the atria and ventricles fill with blood again. This is a passive process.
Only at the end of diastole when the atria contract, more blood is forced into the ventricles. This puts a little strain on them, making the contraction of the ventricles extra powerful. Diastole lasts about twice as long as systole. During strenuous exercise, the heart will have to contract more frequently to bring enough blood (and thus oxygen) to the muscles.
When the heart beats faster, the duration of diastole is shortened. When diastole is shortened, less blood can be pumped into the heart. This, of course, contrasts with the very larger amount of blood the body needs. In animals with a heart problem, something goes wrong during the process explained above, the heart is unable to adapt sufficiently to the animal's exertion.
There are several heart diseases: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) This is the most common heart disease in cats. In this condition, cats have a thickened heart muscle wall.
As a result, the heart's chamber will become smaller and thus less blood can enter it.
Not enough blood is then pumped into the body, which can cause problems. HCM can be an isolated disease or be caused by another condition, such as hypertension, thyroid gland working too hard, a kidney problem. It is therefore important to check other organ systems when a heart problem is diagnosed.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) This condition occurs only in cats.
It is less common than HCM. In this heart condition, the chambers can no longer relax sufficiently (hence the name restriction), so blood cannot be pumped around as effectively. Congestive cardiomyopathy (CCM) In this heart condition, the heart muscle is weakened.
The heart 'lubs out', preventing it from beating as vigorously. Less blood enters the blood vessels as a result. The animal's body reacts to this by squeezing the blood vessels a little tightly to maintain blood pressure. However, this forces the heart to work even harder.
Heart problems are not immediately visible on the outside of a cat. Your cat does not have to have any symptoms at all at first. During the annual check-up, a heart murmur or an excessively fast heartbeat may be found as a chance finding. As the heart condition gets worse, problems may arise. Your cat may have reduced appetite, lose weight, be lethargic and/or suffer from shortness of breath. In the worst case, acute paralysis of the hind leg or legs occurs because a blood clot has become stuck in the arteries (thrombosis).
The earlier a heart problem is detected, the better. To determine the cause of the heart problem, further examination is necessary. This can be done with blood tests, blood pressure measurement, ultrasound, X-rays and an ECG (an electrocardiogram).
Ultrasound allows you to assess the heart in action; you can assess the thickness of the heart muscle wall and look at the atria and chambers of the heart. You will also get a picture of how the blood flow is in the heart. So, an ultrasound is the best way to assess heart function.
On X-rays, we can assess the heart and lungs, among other things. We look at the size and shape of the heart. We also look at the lungs and chest cavity to see if fluid is accumulating in them or if any other problems are present.