The hospital is equipped with state of the art imaging systems to diagnose all types of heart diseases such as:
Mitral Valve Disease
Mitral valve degeneration affects 10% of older small breeds pets, it is also called Myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD, chronic mitral valve disease, mitral insufficiency, and endocardiosis) is the most common cardiac condition seen in dogs. It is mostly, but not exclusively, a disease of smaller breed dogs, and is seen in middle-age or geriatric dogs. The first sign is a heart murmur.
Myxomatous Mitral Valve disease is due to an unidentified mechanism that leads to deterioration of the mitral valves. The Mitral Valve is located in between the atrium and ventricle on the left side of the heart. The degeneration causes the valves to retract and thicken, creating an opening through which blood can circulate back and forth within the atrial and ventricular cavities. The Chordae Tendineae, which anchors the Mitral valve and prevents it to move freely in the atrium, can tear– causing the valve to flop around instead of efficiently closing the atrio-ventricular communication. With progression of the disease, the vortex of blood inside the left side of the heart generates an acute left-sided congestive heart failure that is poorly responsive to medication.
Three-quarters of canine patients affected by a Myxomatous Mitral Valve Degeneration will die from a different pathology because the disease progression is very slow if properly treated.
Cardiomyopathy (dilated or hypertrophic) is a primary disease of the heart muscle of the ventricles. They will affect dogs and cats with some specificities. Some dog breeds are particularly affected like Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Portuguese water dogs, Dalmatians Boxers, and Cocker spaniel. Because of the strong breed association, DCM almost certainly is inherited in many breeds. Genetic mutations that are associated with DCM have been identified in Doberman Pinschers, Boxers. Genetic testing for these mutations can be done for each.
In some dogs, DCM is due to a nutritional deficiency. Taurine is an amino acid required for the development and function of the myocardium. Consequently, pets may develop DCM on taurine-deficient diets, such as vegetarian diets, and may benefit from appropriate supplementation.
Heart Tumor, Hemangiosarcoma
The heart-based hemangiosarcoma exerts its life-threatening effects by bleeding. Tumors are generally located around the right side of the heart base. The heart is enclosed in a sac called the pericardium. When the hemangiosarcoma bleeds, the blood fills up the pericardium until it is so full that the heart inside is under so much pressure that it has no room to fill with the blood it needs to pump.
This condition will degenerate into a circulating collapse named pericardial tamponade if allowed to develop. The only way to relieve the pressure into the cardiac sac is to tap the pericardium with a needle, allowing the blood to evacuate and decrease the pressure around the myocardium. In 63% of cases of heart-based hemangiosarcomas there is evidence of metastatic disease (cancer that has already spread to other organs) at the time of diagnosis. Survival time after surgery alone is less than three months.
Genetic heart diseases are rare but very serious and are usually due to an anatomic abnormality of the heart such as ventricular septum abnormalities, stenotic valves or subaortic stenosis. Some of these diseases can be treated surgically.
The retention of fluids in the chest or abdomen due to heart disease is called Congestive Heart Failure.
- In the case of left-sided heart disease, such as Mitral Valve Degeneration, Dilated Cardiomyopathy or congenital defects, fluids accumulate in the chest and lungs.
- In the case of right-sided heart disease, fluid accumulates mainly in the abdomen or within the pleural space. CHF diagnosis relies on associating clinical signs of labored breathing to heart abnormalities findings.
Most of the time a heart murmur can be heard even before the presence of any symptoms. Yet causing heart rate and respiratory rate to be elevated. When CHF is suspected, Veterinarians will take radiographs to see evidence of an enlarged heart or presence of fluids in the lungs or the pleural space. The gold standard for CHF evaluation and diagnosis is the echocardiogram that allows visualizing internal structures of the heart.