June 22nd, 2007, 10:04 AM
I'm new here--Smoky is my 8-year-old long-haired tuxedo cat. A couple of years ago her vet said she had a heart murmur, but I didn't pay any attention to it because I have 2 other cats and a puppy. But yesterday he said the murmur has progressed to grade 3 and he wants to refer her to a specialist for an echocardiagram.
Does anybody else have a cat with a heart murmur, and how much does an echocardiagram cost? And even if she has one, would her treatment be any different? And is there a treatment?
I can't live without my Smoky.
June 22nd, 2007, 11:39 AM
Like humans, dogs have a four chambered heart with all the same complexities. Therefore the presence of a heart murmur, while indicative of disease, is not in itself a complete diagnosis. The grading has to do with how it sounds (graded 1-6, 6 sounding the worst). Generally speaking the worse the grade, the worse the disease; however, this is not always the case!
An echo is essential for further understanding of why the murmur is occurring. An echo is an ultrasound of the heart which is usually performed by a veterinary specialist (usually cardiology or internal medicine).
The prognosis, use of any medication (if any...) will be dependent upon the echo. There are many pets that have heart murmurs that require no medication and some that do. Finding out which is important! Also the earlier the echo is done the better!
June 22nd, 2007, 11:48 AM
My cat, Aztec, also has a heart murmur, although fairly mild. It was diagnosed from an EKG (electrocardiogram) but isn't yet audible on a stethoscope. He did have a cardiac ultrasound earlier this year in order to determine the nature of his murmur, and it turns out that he has some slight thickening of the heart wall - hypertropic cardiomypathy (HCM). Unfortunately the ultrasound is pricey ($500), but it's the best way to accurately diagnose what the heart problem is because treatment will need to be tailored to the particular ailment (there is also dilated cardiomypathy, which is a thinning of the heart wall, and some other ones that I can't remember right now).
Aztec is currently taking a drug called Atenolol, which slows down his heart rate and allows the heart to better fill up with blood. There are several other medications that do various things like lower blood pressure, diuretics, etc, but again, you need to know what is causing the heart murmur so you can choose the best treatment. Coenzyme Q10 is also something you might want to talk to your vet about as it has shown to be beneficial for all kinds of heart issues (Aztec takes 30mg a day mixed in with his food).
While there isn't really a *cure* for something like HCM, finding the proper treatment protocol can certainly help prolong a good quality of life. I'd really recommend getting the ultrasound done, especially with a grade 3 murmur. Good luck, and if you have any other questions or concerns, let me know!
June 22nd, 2007, 08:25 PM
Wow, what a great response. Today the vet started Smoky on Clavamox for a suspected urinary infection but said her blood test results showed no problem with her thyroid or kidneys. I guess I'll take her to the cardiac specialist, especially now that I'm reassured there are medicines out there that can help her. I want Smoky to get to be a great big old cat, especially because the cat I had before her had to be put to sleep at age 8 because of kidney failure.
You guys are the best!