Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a disease of the heart muscle, primarily the left ventricle.  The muscle begins to thicken for an unknown reason.  This thickening (hypertrophy) is not uniform in every patient and echocardiography must be used to distinguish type and severity.  Other non-cardiac diseases such as hypertension, hyperthyroidism, and acromegaly can also cause ventricular hypertrophy and should be ruled out by appropriate testing.

Auscultation (hearing with a stethoscope) of heart murmur may be the first clue that your cat has HCM.  Symptoms such as trouble breathing, panting, fainting, decreased activity level or appetite, a sudden inability to walk in the rear legs of sudden death can all signal the presence of de-stabilized heart disease.  If these signs develop, please contact us immediately.

Blood tests, primarily to evaluate renal function and electrolyte status, chest radiographs, ECGs, and cardiac ultrasound are usually needed to thoroughly evaluate your pet initially.  Regular monitoring is needed to best evaluate your pet’s ongoing needs and changes.  The type of tests run at the recheck depends upon the patient’s physical examination and your history.  This recheck examination allows us to determine if the disease is progressing or if medication adjustments are warranted.  Of course, every patient is treated on an individual basis and recommendations may vary from this as the patient requires.

The goal of therapy is to stabilize the heart disease.  If clinical signs are present, therapy is designed to reduce these to a point that the quality of life is good.  Many patients respond well to medication and some actually have improvement of the cardiac abnormalities.  However, certain breeds or individuals that have already experienced an episode of heart failure may have a poorer prognosis.  Medication is for life for most cases.

Our chief concern is your pet’s well-being.  We hope this general information is helpful, but please do not hesitate to bring any concerns or questions to our attention.