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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe the clinical features, histopathologic lesions, and outcome of cardiovascular disease in central bearded dragons.

ANIMALS

54 bearded dragons.

METHODS

Retrospective evaluation of captive bearded dragons with antemortem imaging or postmortem diagnosis of cardiovascular disease from 2007 to 2022 from 6 hospitals.

RESULTS

The total prevalence of cardiovascular disease was 3.3% (54/1,655). Physical examination findings were available in 46 cases with change in mentation being the most common finding (n = 28/46 [60.9%]), followed by dehydration (17/46 [37%]), palpable coelomic mass (13/46 [28.3%]), dyspnea (10/46 [21.7%]), and sunken eyes (10/46 [21.7%)]. Doppler auscultation revealed an arrhythmia in 5/34 (14.7%) animals. Diagnostic imaging was only performed on 21 animals, and 10 (47.6%) had cardiovascular abnormalities described. In total, 84 cardiovascular diagnoses were found in 54 animals. The most common diagnosis was myocarditis (n = 14) followed by aneurysms (11), pericardial effusion (9), atherosclerosis (7), epicarditis (7), and myocardial degeneration/necrosis (7). Overall, 62 causes of death were identified in 52 cases, with cardiovascular disease being the most common (n = 18/52 [34.5%]). Only 3/54 animals were diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Animals with aneurysms were more likely to die to due cardiovascular disease compared to other types of cardiovascular diagnoses (OR, 43.75; 95% CI, 4.88 to 392.65; P < .001).

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Diagnosis of cardiovascular disease in bearded dragons is challenging given the inconsistent clinical presentation; however, it should remain a differential in animals with nonspecific signs of illness. Antemortem diagnostics are recommended in suspected cases, including diagnostic imaging. Of the cardiovascular diseases described, aneurysms most often contributed to clinical demise.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research