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Atrial fibrillation in cats: 50 cases (1979–2002)

Etienne Côté DVM, DACVIM1,2, Neil K. Harpster VMD, DACVIM3, Nancy J. Laste DVM, DACVIM4, Kristin A. MacDonald DVM, DACVIM5, Mark D. Kittleson DVM, PhD, DACVIM6, Betsy R. Bond DVM, DACVIM7, Kirstie A. Barrett DVM, DACVIM8, Stephen J. Ettinger DVM, DACVIM9, and Clarke E. Atkins DVM, DACVIM10
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  • 1 Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, 350 S Huntington, Boston, MA 02130.
  • | 2 present address is the Department of Companion Animals, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE, C1A 4P3, Canada.
  • | 3 Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, 350 S Huntington, Boston, MA 02130.
  • | 4 Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, 350 S Huntington, Boston, MA 02130.
  • | 5 Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 6 Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 7 Animal Medical Center, 510 E 62nd St, New York, NY 10021.
  • | 8 California Animal Hospital, 1736 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025.
  • | 9 California Animal Hospital, 1736 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025.
  • | 10 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606.

Abstract

Objective—To determine signalment, clinical signs, diagnostic findings, treatment, and outcome for cats with atrial fibrillation (AF).

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—50 cats.

Procedure—Medical records of cats that met criteria for a diagnosis of AF (ECG consisting of at least 2 leads, clear absence of P waves, supraventricular rhythm, and convincingly irregularly irregular rhythm) and had undergone echocardiography were reviewed.

Results—There were 41 males (37 castrated) and 9 females (7 spayed). Forty-one were of mixed breeding; 9 were purebred. Mean ± SD age was 10.2 ± 3.7 years. The most common chief complaints were dyspnea, aortic thromboembolism, and lethargy. In 11 cats, AF was an incidental finding. Mean ± SD ventricular rate was 223 ± 36 beats/min. The most common echocardiographic abnormalities were restrictive or unclassified cardiomyopathy (n = 19), concentric left ventricular hypertrophy (18), and dilated cardiomyopathy (6). Mean ± SD left atrial-to-aortic diameter ratio (n = 39) was 2.55 ± 0.80. The most common thoracic radiographic findings were cardiomegaly, pleural effusion, and pulmonary edema. Median survival time (n = 24) was 165 days (range, 0 to 1,095 days). Eight of 24 cats lived for ≥ 1 year after a diagnosis of AF was made.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that AF occurs primarily in older adult male cats with structural heart disease severe enough to lead to atrial enlargement. Atrial fibrillation in these cats was most commonly first detected when signs of decompensated cardiac disease were evident, but also was commonly identified as an incidental finding. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:256–260)

Abstract

Objective—To determine signalment, clinical signs, diagnostic findings, treatment, and outcome for cats with atrial fibrillation (AF).

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—50 cats.

Procedure—Medical records of cats that met criteria for a diagnosis of AF (ECG consisting of at least 2 leads, clear absence of P waves, supraventricular rhythm, and convincingly irregularly irregular rhythm) and had undergone echocardiography were reviewed.

Results—There were 41 males (37 castrated) and 9 females (7 spayed). Forty-one were of mixed breeding; 9 were purebred. Mean ± SD age was 10.2 ± 3.7 years. The most common chief complaints were dyspnea, aortic thromboembolism, and lethargy. In 11 cats, AF was an incidental finding. Mean ± SD ventricular rate was 223 ± 36 beats/min. The most common echocardiographic abnormalities were restrictive or unclassified cardiomyopathy (n = 19), concentric left ventricular hypertrophy (18), and dilated cardiomyopathy (6). Mean ± SD left atrial-to-aortic diameter ratio (n = 39) was 2.55 ± 0.80. The most common thoracic radiographic findings were cardiomegaly, pleural effusion, and pulmonary edema. Median survival time (n = 24) was 165 days (range, 0 to 1,095 days). Eight of 24 cats lived for ≥ 1 year after a diagnosis of AF was made.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that AF occurs primarily in older adult male cats with structural heart disease severe enough to lead to atrial enlargement. Atrial fibrillation in these cats was most commonly first detected when signs of decompensated cardiac disease were evident, but also was commonly identified as an incidental finding. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:256–260)