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Q: What to do about cat with enlarged heart? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: What to do about cat with enlarged heart?
Category: Family and Home > Pets
Asked by: jillel-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 27 Jul 2006 07:48 PDT
Expires: 26 Aug 2006 07:48 PDT
Question ID: 750061
My cat may have an enlarged heart. What are the consequences of this,
and what can be done, if anything, to diagnose and treat it?

So far I've seen that it can be expensive but haven't found
information on any real benefit to getting it looked at.
Subject: Re: What to do about cat with enlarged heart?
Answered By: kriswrite-ga on 27 Jul 2006 09:07 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Jillel~

First, I'd like to say that I'm sorry you have to ask this question.
However, I hope that my Answer will help you make informed decisions
about your pet's health.

Treatment for a feline's enlarged heart depends somewhat on the
underlying cause of the condition. For a good article about these
underlying causes, please check out "Cardiomyopathy in Cats" at The
Feline Advisory Bureau:  )

Two common causes of an enlarged heart are:

* Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), or enlargement of the heart chambers
and weakening of the heart muscle.

* Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and Restrictive cardiomyopathy
(RCM) , or relaxation of the heart muscle.

The heart may be treated by giving the cat beta-blockers; this makes
the heart beat slower, increases the heart's pumping, and gives more
time for blood to fill the heart chamber. Other common drugs used to
treat enlarged feline hearts include:

* ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitor, which reduces the
heart's work load.

* Calcium channel blockers, which relax the heart muscle relax, making
more room for blood to fill the pumping chamber of the heart

* Low does of aspirin, to prevent clotting. 

* Amlodipine, to reduce blood pressure

Treatment also varies according to side effects, For example, if
there's fluid in the cat's lungs, the cat should be given a diuretic
medication. (Sometimes fluid is also drained by placing a needle
through the chest.)

In most cases, the cat's diet needn't be altered, unless a deficiency
is suspected. Obese cats should loose weight, and very salty foods
(often found in some cat treats) should be cut from the diet.

As the Feline Advisory Bureau says, "Where an underlying cause can be
identified and corrected, the secondary cardiac dysfunction may
resolve. Where no underlying cause is found, treatment is aimed at
management of heart rate and hypertension symptoms.  Sadly, the
cardiomyopathy itself is usually progressive, although progression may
be slow."

If the enlarged heart is caught early, many cats survive another five
years or so. "Cats arriving at the clinic with heart failure will
survive for a much shorter period, on average 3 months, though one in
five survive more than 3 years. For cats who have thrown bloodclots,
the prognosis is poor. They will not live, on average, for more than
six months. But even after experiencing bloodclots and pulmonary edema
some cats, with the correct medication, may live at least another 2
years." ("Cats and Heart Disease," )

Kind regards,


cat "enlarged heart"

Request for Answer Clarification by jillel-ga on 27 Jul 2006 11:24 PDT
Sorry I didn't clarify the question about treatment - What is the
nature of the treatments? (Daily/monthly, pills/injections,
painful/benign, at home/at vet, etc.) Ie I don't want to make my cat
miserable daily just to have him live longer.

Clarification of Answer by kriswrite-ga on 27 Jul 2006 12:50 PDT
Hi again Jillel~

This new question is really impossible to answer, not knowing your
cat's exact condition and what treatments your vet prefers. Consulting
your vet would be the best bet.

However, here are some basics:

* Draining the lungs with a needle is mildly uncomfortable. (Imagine
how you'd feel!)

* Almost all medications may be taken orally.

* In most cases, the medication will be daily. One site mentions:
"Where no underlying cause is found, I treat the cat with a class of
medications called ACE inhibitors (angiotensin converting enzyme) that
improve cardiac function (enalapril, Enacard, 0.125-0.25mg/lb once or
twice a day), and diuretics to remove pooled fluids ( furosemide,
Lasix 0.5-2mg/lb one to three times a day). " ("Cardiomyopathy Disease
In Cats," 2nd Chance:
) But again, the exact treatment will depend upon your cat and your

* Medication may be given at home.

* In almost all cases, the condition will not cure itself, so
medication will be a part of the cat's remaining life.

* Regular check ups will probably be required.

* In some cases, blot clots escape the heart and travel through the
cat's body. "The most common site for clots to lodge is the point at
which the aorta splits before going into the rear legs. Thus, these
cats often become paralyzed in the rear legs very suddenly and are in
significant pain." Usually, the only viable treatment is pain
medication.("Cardiomyopathy in Cats," Pawprints and Purrs, Inc.: )

I hope this helps,

Additional Sources found through Google search:

Cardiomyopathy cats
jillel-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: What to do about cat with enlarged heart?
From: markvmd-ga on 27 Jul 2006 10:28 PDT
Beautiful work, Kriswrite. I must add that diagnosis from specialists
can quickly get expensive with x-rays, ECG, ultrasound, doppler,
labwork, etc, all to lead to the regular ol' vet's recommendation of,
say, digitalis.
Subject: Re: What to do about cat with enlarged heart?
From: probonopublico-ga on 27 Jul 2006 11:03 PDT
Hi Jillel

Markvmd-ga speaks with authority so his endorsement is invaluable.

All the Best


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