Veterinary cardiology: What tools do I have to diagnose a cardiopathy?

Montse Rabanal – Veterinary cardiologist – ECG Veterinary

  Medical record and the body information are important information to direct a diagnosis and decide the possibility of a cardiopathy. All the symptoms, its severity, the moments when is showed and its characteristics (a cough, exercise intolerance, tachypnea/shortness of breath) has to be analysed in depth with the owner. Diagnóstico de cardiopatías en veterinariaExploration is fundamental. For example, in cases of dyspnea, is important to determinate what kind of dyspnea is, because it allows focusing the area to be explored thoroughly. Is important to explore everything: jugular vein, femoral artery, ascites, temperature, etc. The auscultation is essential, the stethoscope is indispensable in the exploration of a possible patient with a cardio-respiratory process. The auscultation should be systematic, even pulmonary than cardiac. Besides to this, is important to identify the intensity of the heart murmur and what kind of heart murmur is (Systolic, Diastolic or continuous and combined systolic/Diastolic. The electronic stethoscopes allow recording the phonocardiogram to make easier identify the heart murmur. It is very important to palpate femoral artery heartbeat while is evaluating the auscultation to connect cardiac heartbeat with the power and presence of the pulse. Nuestras mascotas también sufren problemas cardíacosThe x-ray photographs are very helpful because the presence of cardiac alterations isn´t always “reliable”.  Cardiomegaly and pleural effusion generate concentric hypertrophy without enlarged heart. It is essential for valuation of the pulmonary cave and value possible signs of pulmonary edema or others pathologies of the pulmonary parenchyma or ventilator system. In degenerative valve diseases, the most common disease, if we see an increase in the left auricular of the thoracic duct x-ray, will be very useful to decide if it´s necessary to start a cardiac therapy. Radiografía torácicaThe EKG is an easy and cheap medical test that can add information about the cardiac frequency and arrhythmias.  EKG is the only test that can give us this kind of information, but it isn’t reliable to detect cardiomegaly. Some arrhythmias are associated with one type of pathology or cardiac situations and they are very important in patients with weakness attack or collapse, fatigue, etc. When is necessary a valuation prolonged, is important to use a Holter during 24 hours. The Doppler echocardiography is essential to detect some cardiopathies (congenital heart diseases, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) and, any case, include very precise information to value the gravity of the cardiac dysfunction and choose the appropriate treatment. Related post: Veterinary cardiology: How to tackle a cardiopathy diagnosis? Veterinary cardiology: Why is it useful to record your auscultations? Veterinary cardiology: To which patients should we pay more attention in the evaluation of cardiac processes?