HEART MURMURS IN CATS THAT HAVE NO SYMPTOMS OF ILLNESS
- Many of the cats that we diagnose with a heart murmur have no symptoms of illness; a heart murmur is an occasional finding on an annual exam or other routine wellness exams.
- There are many possible reasons for a cat to have a heart murmur. In some cases the murmur is "innocent"; that is, the cat does not have a heart-related health problem.
- On the other hand, heart disease is a very common problem in cats. Depending on the research criteria used, 18% to 62% of symptom-free cats that have a heart murmur have heart disease.
- Because of the high incidence of heart disease in symptom-free cats that have a murmur, we believe it is important for cats in this situation to have an echocardiogram.
- An echocardiogram is an ultrasound exam of the heart. It is a non-painful, non-invasive test performed by holding a probe on the cat's chest. We clip some fur to allow the probe to make good contact with the skin. An echocardiogram takes about 20 minutes and costs $285 at Yarmouth Vet Center.
- A small percentage of cats are anxious enough about having their echocardiogram that we will use a general anesthetic ($75). This is very safe, even if the pet has heart disease, and it is preferable to making these cats even more anxious.
- When an echocardiogram of a symptom-free cat with a murmur reveals heart disease, we then have the important, practical option of intervening medically at a time when treatment and preventive care are much more likely to have a positive impact.
- When an owner opts not to have an echocardiogram for their symptom-free cat, we do not routinely recommend using any type of treatment. The medications we use are specific for specific problems, and there is the potential for serious negative consequences if we use the wrong treatment for a problem.
(Prices may vary from those mentioned here.)
Yarmouth Veterinary Center