Clinical and electrocardiographic characterization of cattle with atrial premature complexes

Peter D. Constable From the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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 BVSc, MS
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William W. Muir III From the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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 DVM, PhD
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John D. Bonagura From the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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D. Michael Rings From the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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Guy St. Jean From the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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 DMV, MS

Summary

Atrial premature complexes (apc) were identified in 16 cows over a 2-year period. Fourteen cows had concurrent gastrointestinal disease. Variation in the intensity of the first heart sound and an occasionally irregular heart rhythm were evident during thoracic auscultation. Neither cardiac murmurs nor pulse deficits were detected in any cows, and clinical signs of heart failure were lacking. Three cows had apc immediately prior to or after development of atrial fibrillation.

The heart rate when apc were diagnosed ranged from 48 to 124 beats/min (mean, 77 ± 20 beats/min), and the apc frequency ranged from < 1 to 23/min (mean 9.4 ± 8.0). The P-wave morphologic characteristics in 4 cows with apc was abnormal. The coupling index of the apc varied between 0.44 and 0.95, with a mean of 0.73. Aberrant ventricular activation was usually associated with a short coupling interval (coupling index < 0.60) and was observed in 3 cows.

Ten cows were determined to be hypocalcemic and 4 cows hypokalemic when apc were identified. Atrial ectopic activity could not be detected in 12 cows after resolution of the concurrent gastrointestinal disorder or electrolyte abnormality. Atrial premature complexes may be a functional cardiac disorder in cattle, unrelated to structural heart disease. The potential for apc to progress to sustained atrial arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation should be considered.

Summary

Atrial premature complexes (apc) were identified in 16 cows over a 2-year period. Fourteen cows had concurrent gastrointestinal disease. Variation in the intensity of the first heart sound and an occasionally irregular heart rhythm were evident during thoracic auscultation. Neither cardiac murmurs nor pulse deficits were detected in any cows, and clinical signs of heart failure were lacking. Three cows had apc immediately prior to or after development of atrial fibrillation.

The heart rate when apc were diagnosed ranged from 48 to 124 beats/min (mean, 77 ± 20 beats/min), and the apc frequency ranged from < 1 to 23/min (mean 9.4 ± 8.0). The P-wave morphologic characteristics in 4 cows with apc was abnormal. The coupling index of the apc varied between 0.44 and 0.95, with a mean of 0.73. Aberrant ventricular activation was usually associated with a short coupling interval (coupling index < 0.60) and was observed in 3 cows.

Ten cows were determined to be hypocalcemic and 4 cows hypokalemic when apc were identified. Atrial ectopic activity could not be detected in 12 cows after resolution of the concurrent gastrointestinal disorder or electrolyte abnormality. Atrial premature complexes may be a functional cardiac disorder in cattle, unrelated to structural heart disease. The potential for apc to progress to sustained atrial arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation should be considered.

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