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Cat Heart Attack

Cat Heart Attack

Heart attack symptoms in cats differ from those seen in humans since they don’t experience myocardial infarctions as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle and a diet high in fat. Knowing the symptoms of a cat heart attack can help a pet owner seek medical care before it’s too late. Fainting and Seizures Syncope, when cats collapse or faint, is often seen prior to a heart attack. A lack of oxygen, abnormally fast or slow heart rhythms, low blood pressure and blood clots can contribute to fainting or partial fainting. When a cat faints, appears weak or has stiff limbs, he may be exhibiting symptoms that his heart is not pumping blood correctly. Often, when a cat does faint, he’s back to normal within a matter of minutes. Occasionally a cat will have a seizure and will look like he has only fainted. However, when a cat has a seizure he won’t return to normal in just a matter of minutes; it could take up to a couple of hours. A seizure can also be accompanied by limbs that twitch or jerk. Rapid Heart Rate A rapid heart rate that seems abnormal (tachyarrhythmia), followed by hyperactivity that appears erratic, could be a sign of an impending feline heart attack. The fast heart beat and quick movements can make the cat pant or have shortness of breath in a short amount of time. A cat may also begin to wheeze as if he had asthma. Many times, tachyarrhythmia is only noticed by a veterinarian. If a vet finds a rapid heart rate in a cat, he may prescribe drugs for the arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat) to help reduce the chances of the cat having a heart attack. Slow Heart Rhythm Another form of arrhythmia is bradyarrhythmia, meaning the heart has a slow heart rhythm that’s not normal. A slow heart can negatively affect a cat’s health in several ways, is often a sign of an upcoming heart attack and is often treated with a pacemaker. Again, a slow heart rhythm is a symptom that may only be noticeable to a vet. Symptoms a Veterinarian Will See When a veterinarian suspects a cat may be having a heart attack, he’ll collect images of the heart with an x-ray or an ultrasound machine to obtain an echocardiogram that will show if the muscles of the heart are thin, the presence of blood clots or other blockages in the heart. Other instruments a vet will have include a stethoscope and an electrocardiogram to listen to and monitor the cat’s heart and pericardium, which covers the heart. Blood samples are also drawn to check for an underlying cause to the cat’s heart condition. When a cat has a heart attack, there’s usually little warning that it will happen. However, there may be signs a cat will display that are symptoms of an upcoming heart event that will help pet owners know he needs immediate veterinary help.
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Cat Heart Attack

Diagnosis of Heart Attack in CatsThe veterinarian will need the cat’s complete health history, which will include any history of heart disease, a detailed list of symptoms and an approximate date and time when the symptoms first began. The veterinarian will then physically examine the cat, listening to its heart and breathing with a stethoscope, taking its pulse and blood pressure and looking for gait abnormalities that could signal a blood clot. The veterinarian will pay close attention for any signs of heart murmurs or muffled heart sounds that are indicative of fluid in the pericardium, which is the sac that surrounds the heart muscle. A biochemical profile, complete blood count, and a urinalysis will be done. These labs can help the veterinarian identify systemic conditions that could have caused the heart attack or help the veterinarian rule out other conditions that have similar cardiac symptoms, such as hyperthyroidism. These lab tests may show a high white blood cell count as a result of an infection or high liver enzymes that are indicative of a liver problem.An electrocardiogram (EKG) and an echocardiogram (ECG) will be performed on the cat. An EKG looks at the heart’s electrical activity and can help identify blockages and abnormal heart rhythms. An ECG is an ultrasound of the heart muscle. The ECG will look for abnormalities of the heart valves, the pericardium, and any heart muscle diseases. The veterinarian may also take a chest X-ray of the cat in order to view any abnormalities in the lung cavity.If the hospital tests are inconclusive as to the condition that caused the heart attack to occur, the veterinarian may want the cat’s heart rate monitored for a longer period of time. In this case, the cat may be fitted for a Holter monitor, which will record all heart activity for a 24 hour period, or an event monitor, which will record the heart activity during events, such as collapsing, when a small button is pressed.
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Cat Heart Attack

The veterinarian will need the cat’s complete health history, which will include any history of heart disease, a detailed list of symptoms and an approximate date and time when the symptoms first began. The veterinarian will then physically examine the cat, listening to its heart and breathing with a stethoscope, taking its pulse and blood pressure and looking for gait abnormalities that could signal a blood clot. The veterinarian will pay close attention for any signs of heart murmurs or muffled heart sounds that are indicative of fluid in the pericardium, which is the sac that surrounds the heart muscle. A biochemical profile, complete blood count, and a urinalysis will be done. These labs can help the veterinarian identify systemic conditions that could have caused the heart attack or help the veterinarian rule out other conditions that have similar cardiac symptoms, such as hyperthyroidism. These lab tests may show a high white blood cell count as a result of an infection or high liver enzymes that are indicative of a liver problem.An electrocardiogram (EKG) and an echocardiogram (ECG) will be performed on the cat. An EKG looks at the heart’s electrical activity and can help identify blockages and abnormal heart rhythms. An ECG is an ultrasound of the heart muscle. The ECG will look for abnormalities of the heart valves, the pericardium, and any heart muscle diseases. The veterinarian may also take a chest X-ray of the cat in order to view any abnormalities in the lung cavity.If the hospital tests are inconclusive as to the condition that caused the heart attack to occur, the veterinarian may want the cat’s heart rate monitored for a longer period of time. In this case, the cat may be fitted for a Holter monitor, which will record all heart activity for a 24 hour period, or an event monitor, which will record the heart activity during events, such as collapsing, when a small button is pressed.
cat heart attack 3

Cat Heart Attack

Recovery of Heart Attack in CatsThe cat’s prognosis will depend on the severity and length of the heart attack as well as the successful treatment of the underlying condition that caused the heart attack to occur. The cat will need to regularly follow up with the veterinarian to monitor the heart rate through EKG tests. If the veterinarian sent the cat home with a Holter or event monitor, instructions will need to be followed in order for the condition to be properly diagnosed. The cat will need to rest while it recovers after a heart attack in order to recover properly.If a cat collapses at home, it’s important to never administer CPR unless specifically trained in pet CPR as this could cause additional injury to the cat. If a cat does collapse, it’s important to gently feel the cat’s chest and note any heart irregularities, such as a fast or slow heartbeat, and report this to the veterinarian.
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Cat Heart Attack

Treatment of Heart Attack in CatsMedicationThe cat will be given medication in the hospital to dissolve a blood clot and restore blood flow to the heart. The veterinarian may also prescribe medications in order to treat the cat’s underlying condition that caused the heart attack to occur. Antiarrhythmic drugs, such as beta-blockers or digitalis, can help slow the cat’s heart rate down to an appropriate level. Oxygen TherapyCat’s who have had a heart attack will need to receive oxygen therapy in the hospital in order to ensure that enough oxygen is being delivered to the body. The oxygen will be given to the cat via a nasal cannula or a face mask. Oxygen therapy will continue until the heart is able to function properly and deliver oxygen to the body in its own.Pacemaker ImplantationCats who have a slow heart rate as a result of the lost tissue during the heart attack may need to have a pacemaker installed. The pacemaker will be placed into the cat’s abdomen during surgery. The lead will then be surgically attached to the outside of the heart via a small incision in the diaphragm. The pacemaker works by sending a small electrical signal to the heart, which will keep it beating at a normal pace.

Cat Heart Attack

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Cat Heart Attack