Cardiac disease in animals can range from asymptomatic, non-progressive disease to severe disease requiring intensive care and oxygen support. Most often animals are referred to our veterinary cardiology specialists for a heart murmur (an abnormal heart sound that usually indicates turbulent blood flow) or clinical signs that may indicate cardiac disease (such as exercise intolerance, lethargy, persistent cough, difficulty breathing, collapse, or swollen abdomen or limbs). A pet cardiology appointment will most often consist of a thorough cardiovascular physical examination, echocardiogram, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), and thoracic radiographs (chest x-rays).
What to expect at your Cardiology Consultation?
The initial cardiology consultation is scheduled for one hour. Our cardiologist will review the pet’s medical history. Then he will examine the pet and listen for a heart murmur, abnormal lung sounds and abnormal heart beats. Additional diagnostic tests, may be suggested based upon the initial evaluation. The primary test used to determine the cause of heart murmurs is an ultrasound or “echocardiogram” of the heart. A summary of the findings and treatment plan is sent to the primary care veterinarian(s), and clients receive a copy as well.
The echocardiogram is a sonogram of the heart. It is performed with the patient laying on his or her side, usually not sedated. Using technologies such as two dimensional harmonic imaging and Doppler modalities such as pulse wave, continuous wave, color flow, and tissue velocity imaging, the echocardiogram is a dynamic view of the cardiac structures for comprehensive assessment of the heart’s function. This allows the detection and classification of valvular insufficiencies, outflow obstructions, congenital heart defects, cardiac tumors, and cardiomyopathies resulting in abnormal pump function or relaxation properties.
An electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) is a simple, painless test that records the heart’s electrical activity. With each heartbeat, an electrical signal spreads from the top of the heart to the bottom. As it travels, the signal causes the heart to contract and pump blood in a very synchronous fashion. The process repeats with each new heartbeat. These electrical signals set the rhythm of the heartbeat. This test is used to detect and evaluate for arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), which can be very fast or very slow and can cause fainting, weakness, or lethargy.
X-rays allow the visualization of the cardiac structures as well as the lungs and the rest of the chest. If there is a suspicion for congestive heart failure (CHF) (fluid in the lungs), then x-rays are indicated as they are the best way to assess the lungs. When a patient has problems breathing or is coughing, the x-rays are very helpful in determining if there is fluid, air, or a mass that may be compromising the lungs, resulting in difficulty breathing or coughing, in addition to determining if the heart is enlarged.New – Anesthesia and Cardio Consult
New – Cardio Anesthesia Consult
Cardio patient coming from a pre-surgical cardiac screen (Cardio consult, EKG, BP, Echo-cardiogram) will now benefit from a pre-oprative anesthesia protocol. Dr. Marco Ruffato, SVRC Anesthetist will consult with Dr.Prosek about cardiac findings and advised on the most appropriate anesthetic protocol for each patient and procedure to be performed.