To characterize epidemiological, clinical, radiographic, and echocardiographic features of cardiac diseases in guinea pigs examined at a referral exotics center.
80 guinea pigs.
Medical records of guinea pigs that had echocardiography performed between June 2010 and January 2021 were reviewed.
The percentage of guinea pig patients with cardiovascular disease was 2.8%. Clinical signs included dyspnea (46/80), lethargy (18/80), and anorexia (10/80). The most common physical examination finding was heart murmur (10/80). Radiographic abnormalities included subjective cardiomegaly (37/67), pleural effusion (21/67), and increased lung opacity (40/67). Median (range) vertebral heart score on right lateral (48/67) and ventrodorsal (39/67) projections was 9.0 vertebrae (6.6 to 13.2 vertebrae) and 10.8 vertebrae (7.9 to 13.2 vertebrae), respectively. The most common echocardiographic diagnosis was cardiomyopathy (30/80), categorized as restrictive (11/30), hypertrophic (10/30), or dilated (9/10). Other cardiac diseases included cor pulmonale (21/80), pericardial effusion (18/80), congenital heart disease (6/80), acquired valvular disease (3/80), and cardiovascular mass (2/80). Congestive heart failure was present in 36 of 80. Median survival time from diagnosis was 2.5 months (95% CI, 1.1 to 6.2 months). Animals that died from heart disease had a significantly shorter survival time than those that died from a noncardiac disease (P = .02).
On radiographs, cardiomegaly, pleural effusion, and alveolar or interstitial lung pattern should be considered as indications for echocardiography in guinea pigs. Cardiomyopathy (restrictive, hypertrophic, or dilated), cor pulmonale, and pericardial effusion were the most common echocardiographic diagnoses. Further studies on diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases in guinea pigs are needed.