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Assessment of the prevalence of heart murmurs in overtly healthy cats

Etienne CôtéSection of Cardiology, Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130.
Present address: Department of Companion Animals, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PEI, C1A 4P3, Canada.

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Ann Marie ManningBlood Bank Program, Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130.

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Dawn EmersonBlood Bank Program, Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130.

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Nancy J. LasteSection of Cardiology, Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130.

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Rebecca L. MalakoffSection of Cardiology, Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130.

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Neil K. HarpsterSection of Cardiology, Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130.

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Abstract

Objective—To assess the frequency of heart murmurs in overtly healthy cats.

Design—Prospective study.

Sample Population—103 healthy domestic cats.

Procedure—Background information and physical characteristics were assessed in cats that were candidates for blood donation during an 8-month period. For cats with heart murmurs, additional information collected included murmur timing, grade, point of maximal intensity, and presence of additional heart sounds.

Results—Heart murmurs were detected in 22 of the 103 (21%) cats. Echocardiography was performed in 7 of those 22 cats. The echocardiogram was considered normal in 1 cat; in the other 6 cats, diagnoses included hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (interventricular septal hypertrophic form [IVSH]; n = 4), left ventricular concentric hypertrophy with valvular disease (1), and equivocal IVSH (1). Thirteen cats had more than 1 examination during the study; 3 of them developed heart murmurs. There were no significant differences in age, sex, breed, coat color, eye color, or heart rate between cats with and without murmurs. Among the 103 cats, there were 6 pairs of siblings from 6 multiple- cat households and 16 cats from 7 multiple-cat households in which the cats were not related; the proportion of cats with murmurs was higher in the related cats (5/12) than in the unrelated cats (3/16), but the difference was not significant.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that heart murmurs are detectable in a large proportion of overtly healthy cats and that many murmurs appear to be caused by structural heart disease that is in a clinically latent state. ( J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:384–388)

Abstract

Objective—To assess the frequency of heart murmurs in overtly healthy cats.

Design—Prospective study.

Sample Population—103 healthy domestic cats.

Procedure—Background information and physical characteristics were assessed in cats that were candidates for blood donation during an 8-month period. For cats with heart murmurs, additional information collected included murmur timing, grade, point of maximal intensity, and presence of additional heart sounds.

Results—Heart murmurs were detected in 22 of the 103 (21%) cats. Echocardiography was performed in 7 of those 22 cats. The echocardiogram was considered normal in 1 cat; in the other 6 cats, diagnoses included hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (interventricular septal hypertrophic form [IVSH]; n = 4), left ventricular concentric hypertrophy with valvular disease (1), and equivocal IVSH (1). Thirteen cats had more than 1 examination during the study; 3 of them developed heart murmurs. There were no significant differences in age, sex, breed, coat color, eye color, or heart rate between cats with and without murmurs. Among the 103 cats, there were 6 pairs of siblings from 6 multiple- cat households and 16 cats from 7 multiple-cat households in which the cats were not related; the proportion of cats with murmurs was higher in the related cats (5/12) than in the unrelated cats (3/16), but the difference was not significant.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that heart murmurs are detectable in a large proportion of overtly healthy cats and that many murmurs appear to be caused by structural heart disease that is in a clinically latent state. ( J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:384–388)