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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


To determine echocardiographic, electrocardiographic, and histologic abnormalities in Doberman Pinschers with occult cardiomyopathy that died suddenly and to compare findings with those of Doberman Pinschers with cardiomyopathy that died of congestive heart failure.


Retrospective study.


14 Doberman Pinschers with occult cardiomyopathy that died suddenly (group 1) and 40 Doberman Pinschers with cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure (group 2).


Serial echocardiography and continuous, ambulatory electrocardiographic (Holter) monitoring were performed. Hearts of dogs that died suddenly were examined histologically.


Group-2 dogs died at a significantly older age than did group-1 dogs. All dogs had echocardiographic abnormalities, but changes were more severe in group-2 than in group-1 dogs. Ventricular tachyarrhythmias were documented in all dogs. Group-1 dogs were more likely to have episodes of sustained ventricular tachycardia than were group-2 dogs. Multifocal interstitial fibrosis and replacement of muscle fibers with collagen and fat were consistently observed in hearts from dogs that died suddenly. Ten group-1 dogs had received antiarrhythmic treatment prior to death.

Clinical Implications

Occult cardiomyopathy can be identified by means of echocardiography and Holter monitoring in Doberman Pinschers. Doberman Pinschers with cardiomyopathy that had episodes of sustained (> 30 seconds) ventricular tachycardia were at risk of dying suddenly. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997;210:505–511)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To identify, by means of 24-hour ambulatory electrocardiography, electrocardiographic abnormalities in overtly healthy Doberman Pinschers in which results of echocardiography were abnormal.

Design—Clinical case series.

Animals—56 (35 male, 21 female) overtly healthy Doberman Pinschers with echocardiographic evidence of cardiomyopathy on initial examination that subsequently died of cardiomyopathy.

Procedure—Twenty-four-hour ambulatory electrocardiographic (Holter) recordings obtained at the time of initial examination were reviewed. For all dogs, scan quality was > 90%.

Results—Initial Holter recordings of all 56 dogs contained ventricular premature contractions (VPC). Thirty-six (65%) dogs had > 1,000 VPC/24 h, 17 (31%) had > 5,000 VPC/24 h, and 11 (19%) had > 10,000 VPC/24 h. Fifty-four (96%) dogs had couplets of VPC, 37 (66%) had triplets of VPC, and 36 (64%) had episodes of nonsustained (< 30 seconds) ventricular tachycardia. Number of VPC/24 h during the initial Holter recordings was positively correlated with numbers of couplets and triplets of VPC and number of ventricular escape beats and negatively correlated with left ventricular fractional shortening. Twentyeight dogs died suddenly prior to the putative onset of congestive heart failure.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that along with echocardiography, 24-hour ambulatory electrocardiography can be used to help identify overtly healthy Doberman Pinschers with cardiomyopathy. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217: 1328–1332)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To characterize ambulatory electrocardiographic results of overtly healthy Doberman Pinschers and determine associations between those results and development of dilated cardiomyopathy.

Design—Cohort study.

Animals—114 (58 male, 56 female) overtly healthy Doberman Pinschers without echocardiographic evidence of cardiac disease on initial examination.

Procedure—Echocardiograms and 24-hour ambulatory electrocardiograms (Holter recordings) were obtained initially and at variable intervals. The status (live vs dead) of all dogs was known at least 2 years and as long as 10 years after initial examination (mean [± SD] follow-up time, 4.33 ± 1.84 years). Associations between development of dilated cardiomyopathy and number of ventricular premature contractions (VPC), age, and sex were determined.

Results—55 dogs (48%) did not have VPC on initial Holter recordings, and only 8 dogs had > 50 VPC/24 hours. The likelihood that a dog would have VPC was associated with increasing age and being male. At least 1 VPC/24 hours, and in particular, > 50 VPC/24 hours or ≥ 1 couplet or triplet of VPC/24 hours, were predictive of subsequent development of dilated cardiomyopathy. Fifty-four dogs (47%) developed dilated cardiomyopathy; 12 were still alive at the end of the study, and 42 had died. Twenty-five of these 42 dogs died after the onset of congestive heart failure (CHF), 15 died suddenly before the onset of overt CHF, and 2 died of noncardiac causes. More males developed dilated cardiomyopathy than females, and dogs that died suddenly were approximately 1 year younger than those that developed CHF.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of high-quality Holter recordings may be used to identify overtly healthy Doberman Pinschers that are at a high risk for dilated cardiomyopathy. ( J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:34–39)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association