|Many of the same diagnostic tools and treatment options that are used to help keep human heart patients alive and healthy are also available for pets. Sophisticated diagnostic options can determine whether your pet actually has cardiovascular problems and, if so, assess their severity. Cardiac catheterization, angioplasty, pacemaker implantation, and cardiac surgery are all treatment and diagnostic options. In addition, many of the medications used in pets are similar to those used in humans, and they can be just as effective.
The cardiologist will start by listening to your pet's heart and lungs. Heart murmurs and arrhythmias can often be detected with a stethoscope. The cardiologist will take your pet's pulse and also loo
Chest X-rays allow the cardiologist to assess your pet's heart and lungs and determine if your pet has congestive heart failure, a condition in which there is an abnormal build-up of fluid in the lungs.k for signs of abnormal fluid build-up in the abdomen or extremities.
Cardiac ultrasonography (echocardiogram)
This test allows the visual examination of the interior of the heart muscle, its valves and its surrounding structures via ultrasonography. Ultrasonography uses reflected sound waves to create a picture of what is inside your pet's body. (See box for more details)
Electrocardiogram (ECG) or EKG
This test records the electrical activity of the heart and can tell the cardioliogist if your pet's heartbeats are normal.
This is a 24-hour continuous ECG recording. Many animals can wear the monitor home, although cats and very small dogs may need overnight boarding to ensure the most accurate reading.
Echocardiography is a sophisticated diagnostic tool which, when combined with other components of a comprehensive cardiac workup, provides veterinary cardiologists with a complete diagnostic picture of your pet's illness in order to outline an optimal treatment course. Here is brief description of the available capabilities, all of which are employed in order to derive a diagnostic and provide optimal treatment.
This is the oldest form of echocardiography. It provides black and white, cross-sectional narrow view of the heart tissues. It is ideal for measurement of chamber size and cardiac muscle thickness.
This mode provides wide overall view of the heart and nearby vessels in black and white. It is good for measuring relative chamber size and cardiac muscle thickness. It is also good for identifying tumors, pericardial effusion (fluid build-up in the heart sac), shunts, and abnormal heart valves.
Although the majority of canine and feline heart conditions are managed medically (through diet and medication), some patients benefit from more complex and invasive procedures. Animals with an abnormally low heart rate, for example, can receive a pacemaker implant to correct the heart rate and rhythm. Cardiac catheterization – the insertion of a tiny catheter into a vein or artery – can be useful for both diagnostic and treatment goals. The procedure is more invasive than others and is done while the pet is anesthetized. An example of interventional catheterization is balloon dilation, a procedure in which a balloon is inserted into a narrowed or collapsed heart valve and inflated in an effort to help open the valve.
Color flow doppler echocardiography
Color flow Doppler provides a visual display of blood flow throughout the heart, identifying both direction and velocity. The color indicates the direction of the blood flow in the heart, while its brightness or intensity can tell the veterinary cardiologist how fast the blood is flowing. Turbulent blood flow can also be detected using this feature of echocardiography. This feature is particularly useful for diagnosis of valve disease and congenital abnormalities
Pulsed wave and continuous flow doppler wave
These Doppler features allow veterinarians to see the velocity and direction of blood flow in the heart. They are used with Color Flow Doppler and are useful in documenting abnormal blood flow, leaks in heart valves, and pressures within the heart's chambers.
Will my pet need to be anesthetised?
Rarely. Most of the diagnostic procedures discussed in this brochure, such as echocardiography, can be conducted without anaesthesia. In cases where more invasive approaches are being utilized, however such as diagnostic or interventional catherization, your pet will need to be anesthetised for the procedure.
A heart murmur is a sound caused by turbulent blood flow within the heart. Murmurs can occur if valves are leaky or narrowed.
Signs of heart trouble:
- Exercise intolerance
- Shortness of breath or apparent difficulty in breathing
- Fast breathing at rest
- Collapse or fainting
- Abnormally elevated or low heart rate
- Restlessness especially at night
- Hind limb paralysis (cats only)
What is a board certified cardiologist?
Cardiology is the branch of medicine that treats diseases of the cardiovascular system. This includes conditions such as congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy (including dilated and hypertropic cardiomyopathy), valvular disorders, congenital abnormalities, and irregular heartneats. Because the function of the heart and lungs are interrelated, veterinary cardiologists are also experts in diseases of the lungs and chest cavity. A board certified veterinary cardiology and has been certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
Why does my pet need a veterinary cardiologist?
In addition to specialized knowledge, veterinary cardiologists also have access to the latest and most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment equipment and capabilities. If your pet is experiencing a heart problem, the quickest and most effective way to achieve a diagnosis and implement effective therapy is with the help of a veterinary cardiologist.
Centre Vétérinaire Laval closely with local veterinarians to provide comprehensive, specialty level veterinary care to pets. Our board certified specialists are up to date on the very latest developments in their field, and have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques, including ultrasonography endoscopy, chemotherapy and advanced surgical procedures.