A cardiologist is a specialist that focuses on the treatment of heart disease in pets. Often pets are sent to a cardiologist when a heart murmur or abnormal rhythm is heard by the family veterinarian. A heart murmur is the sound of turbulent blood flow. Normal blood flow is smooth and therefore virtually silent. The two most common cause of heart murmurs are valve abnormalities and holes inside the heart walls. A cardiac arrhythmia occurs when the heart beats too fast, too slow, or too irregularly. The cardiologist will diagnose the specific kind of cardiac abnormality present and makes recommendations for therapy, if treatment is indicated at this time.
The cardiologist will take a history, review results of testing done by your family veterinarian, and perform a complete physical examination of your pet. The cardiologist will then discuss which tests are the next appropriate diagnostic steps. Common tests performed by a cardiologist include:
Dogs and cats get all of the same kind of heart diseases as people, with the exception of coronary artery disease, which is very rare in our companion animals. Some of the most commonly diagnosed heart conditions in older dogs include:
The most common heart diseases of cats are hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, unclassified/restrictive cardiomyopathy, and hypertensive and hyperthyroid cardiomyopathy
Once a diagnosis has been established by the cardiologist, treatment options may include