OBJECTIVE To generate reference intervals for ECG variables in clinically normal chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).
ANIMALS 100 clinically normal (51 young [< 10 years old] and 49 adult [≥ 10 years old]) wild-born chimpanzees.
PROCEDURES Electrocardiograms collected between 2009 and 2013 at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre were assessed to determine heart rate, PR interval, QRS duration, QT interval, QRS axis, P axis, and T axis. Electrocardiographic characteristics for left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and morphology of the ST segment, T wave, and QRS complex were identified. Reference intervals for young and old animals were calculated as mean ± 1.96•SD for normally distributed data and as 5th to 95th percentiles for data not normally distributed. Differences between age groups were assessed by use of unpaired Student t tests.
RESULTS Reference intervals were generated for young and adult wild-born chimpanzees. Most animals had sinus rhythm with small or normal P wave morphology; 24 of 51 (47%) young chimpanzees and 30 of 49 (61%) adult chimpanzees had evidence of LVH as determined on the basis of criteria for humans.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Cardiac disease has been implicated as the major cause of death in captive chimpanzees. Species-specific ECG reference intervals for chimpanzees may aid in the diagnosis and treatment of animals with, or at risk of developing, heart disease. Chimpanzees with ECG characteristics outside of these intervals should be considered for follow-up assessment and regular cardiac monitoring.