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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To determine the prevalence and severity of pulmonary arterial lesions in cats seropositive for heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) but lacking adult heartworms in the heart and lungs during necropsy.

Animals—630 adult cats from an animal control shelter in Florida.

Procedure—Cats were tested for adult heartworms in the heart and pulmonary arteries and antibody against heartworms in the serum. Histologic examination was conducted on the right caudal lung lobe of 24 heartworm- and antibody-positive cats; 24 heartworm-negative and antibody-positive cats; and 24 heartworm-, antibody-, and antigen-negative cats. Wall areas of 10 small to medium-sized pulmonary arteries of each cat were measured and expressed as a proportion of total cross-sectional area.

Results—Heartworm infection or seropositive status was significantly and strongly associated with severity of medial hypertrophy of pulmonary arterial walls. Heartworm- and antibody-positive cats and heartworm-negative and antibody-positive cats had a significant increase in wall thickness, compared with wall thickness for heartworm- and antibody-negative cats. Heartworm- and antibody-positive cats had the most severe hypertrophy. The proportion with occlusive medial hypertrophy was significantly higher in heartworm- and antibody-positive cats (19/24 [79%]) and heartworm-negative and antibody-positive cats (12/24 [50%]), compared with heartworm- and antibody-negative cats (3/24 [13%]).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Cats with serologic evidence of exposure to heartworms, including those without adult heartworms in the lungs and heart, have a greater prevalence of pulmonary arterial lesions than heartworm-negative cats without serologic evidence of exposure. Additional studies are needed to define the pathogenesis, specificity, and clinical importance of these lesions. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:1544–1549)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


The role of digoxin in treatment of cats with dilated cardiomyopathy and other forms of myocardial failure is unclear. We evaluated the chronotropic and inotropic effects of digoxin by comparing baseline, noninvasive indices of cardiac performance with those obtained after 9 ± 1.3 (mean ± SEM) days of digoxin treatment in 6 cats with heart failure attributable to dilated cardiomyopathy. Two-dimensionally directed, M-mode echocardiography and electrocardiography were used to determine left ventricular shortening fraction, preejection period (PEP), ejection time (LVET), PEP to LVET ratio, velocity of circumferential fiber shortening, electromechanical systole, heart rate, and PR interval.

Treatment consisted of administration of furosemide (mean dosage, 2.4 mg/kg of body weight/day), digoxin in tablet form (approximately 0.01 mg/kg, q 48 h), aspirin (80 mg, q 48 h), and a commercial low-salt diet. In addition, 2 cats were administered short-term, low-dose fluids IV, and 2 were given taurine supplementation at rates of 500 and 1,000 mg/day. Other off-loading or inotropic agents were not administered.

Therapeutic or toxic serum digoxin concentration was achieved in all cats. Significant (P < 0.05) improvement was detected in mean values for shortening fraction, PEP, PEP to LVET ratio, and velocity of circumferential fiber shortening. Mean electromechanical systole and LVET did not change significantly. Improvement, as assessed by indices of cardiac function, was documented in 4 of the 6 cats treated with digoxin, including the 2 cats given taurine supplementation. In the cats given taurine, positive inotropic effect was observed prior to the time when taurine-induced improvement in ventricular function is detectable. Because increase in preload or decrease in afterload was not observed or was not likely, improved ventricular function was thought to be related to digoxin's positive inotropic effect. Digitalization did not significantly decrease mean heart rate, but was associated with a significant (P < 0.05) mean PR interval prolongation of 28 ms.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To compare heartworm serum antibody (Ab) and antigen (Ag) test results, using commercial laboratories and in-house heartworm test kits, with necropsy findings in a population of shelter cats.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—330 cats at an animal shelter.

Procedure—Between March and June 1998, 30 ml of blood was collected from the cranial and caudal venae cavae of 330 cats that were euthanatized at a local animal shelter. Results of heartworm Ab and Ag serologic tests for heartworm infection were compared with necropsy findings in this population of cats, using commercial laboratories and in-house test kits to measure serum Ab and Ag concentrations.

Results—On necropsy, adult Dirofilaria immitis were found in 19 of 330 (5.8%) cats. Combining results from serum Ab and Ag tests achieved higher sensitivities than using serum Ab and Ag test results alone (ie, maximum sensitivities of 100% vs 89.5%, respectively), whereas use of serum Ag and Ab test results alone achieved higher specificities compared with the use of a combination of serum Ab and Ag results (ie, maximum specificities of 99.4% vs 92.9%, respectively).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—On the basis of our findings, if a cat has clinical signs that suggest heartworm disease despite a negative heartworm serum Ab test result, an alternative heartworm Ab test, a heartworm Ag test, thoracic radiography, or two-dimensional echocardiography should be performed. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:693–700)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association