Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats

General Information

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is an abnormal thickening (hypertrophy) of the heart muscle in cats. It is unknown whether the condition has a single cause or is due to a number of factors. Many causes have been suggested and none clearly proven. Male and female cats of any age may be affected, but the disease is most common in middle-aged males.

Thickening of the heart muscle causes both improper filling and impaired pumping action, as well as abnormal heart rhythm. The heart is often beating so rapidly that proper filling of the chambers cannot occur. These changes result in difficult breathing, fluid accumulation in the lungs, blood clots and sudden death. In mild cases, lethargy and a poor appetite may be the only signs in the early stages.

Diagnosis can be complicated. Normal radiographs can give clues about the condition however they usually cannot clearly "prove" the diagnosis. Ultrasonography is the most sensitive indicator or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the hands of an experienced cardiologist. In some cases arrhythmias occur that can be identified by an EKG.

A variety of drugs are used in the treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Drugs that slow sinus rate ("calcium channel blockers" and "beta blockers") are one of the mainstays of therapy. At times both are used. Aspirin may be used to reduce the risk of the development of blood clots. When animals develop signs of lung fluid accumulation diuretics (furosemide) and vasodilators (nitroglycerin or enalapril) may be used.


Important Points in Treatment

1. All drugs must be given as directed. Please call the doctor if you cannot give the medication as directed.

2. Activity: Your cat should be confined to the house for ____ days/weeks and not exposed to stressful situations.

3. Diet:

4.With ALL heart problems one of the major factors in successful treatment is frequent monitoring of the condition to allow for adjustments of dosage and to discuss problems encountered. There is NO cure for this condition although in some cases spontaneous remission does occur.

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur:

* Your pet's condition worsens.

* Your pet cannot use its back legs or is in pain.

* Your pet develops a cough.

* Your pet refuses to eat.

* Your pet's general health changes.