Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a term used when there is no known cause, however secondary, is brought about by other conditions such as high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism etc. Cats with secondary hypertrophic cardiomyopathy tend to be older.

The main feature of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is excessive thickening of the left ventricular wall, papillary muscles & septum. This enlargement causes stiffening & prevents the heart from expanding (to receive blood) properly. It may also reduce the ability of the valves to work properly, and in some circumstances obstruct the flow of blood out of the heart. Arrhythmias, irregularities of the heart beat & conduction disturbances are also common complications of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The thickened wall sometimes distorts one leaflet of the mitral valve, causing it to leak. Fluid can leak into the lungs causing heart failure. Blood clots can form in the left atrium & be carried into the systemic arterial system, most often lodging in the terminal artery, causing paralysis of the hind legs.

Cardio=heart, myopathy=muscle disease & hypertrophic=thickened.

Symptoms of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Fainting/collapse
  • Reduces ability to exercise
  • Rapid, laboured & noisy breathing
  • Frequent coughing
  • Reduces appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Partial paralysis if the hind leg/s
  • Decreased Activity
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Heart murmur
  • Gagging
It is important to note that a heart condition may not be obvious in the early stages, please contact your veterinarian if you are in any doubt of your cats health.

The following can be triggers of heart disease:

  • Age - Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy tends to affect cats one to five years of age, and male cats are more commonly affected.
  • Breed - In cats, the Persian, Maine Coon and American Shorthair breeds seem more likely to suffer from myocardial disease
  • Overweight cats and dogs are more likely to develop heart disease
  • Dietry problems can play a major role in heart disease
How is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy diagnosed?
  • A physical examination may reveal abnormal heart or lung sounds, irregular or gallop heart rhythm or heart murmur, this may well be the first indication that your cat has HCM.
  • Echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) is the best diagnostic tool for HCM. Your veterinarian will evaluate the size, shape & functioning of the heart.
  • X-Ray can show if there is fluid in the chest & heart enlargement.
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Blood tests including a complete blood count & chemistry panel. These can help provide information on the function of other organs. This information is important when determining methods of treatment.
  • Thyroid function test to determine if the cause is due to hyperthyroidism.
  • Arterial blood pressure to check for hypertension.
How is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy treated?

Asymptomatic cats may require no treatment, but your veterinarian will want to monitorthe cat closely. It is not possible to cure HCM, treatment is aimed at controlling symptoms & preventing complications. The thick ventricles of HCM contract and relax abnormally, and to assist the relaxation phase some drugs may be necessary. Beta blocking drugs & calcium blocking channels may be prescribed to assist.

If the cat has congestive heart failure, diuretics may be prescribed. Controlled doses of blood thinning drugs such as aspirin for cats who have a high risk of clot formation. Restricting activity also reduces the strain on the heart & your veterinarian may prescribe a period of cage rest. Changing the diet to a specific prescription diet specifically tailored for cats suffering from Hypertrophin Cardiomyopathy.


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