Testing for Feline Heart Disease
It would be nice if feline heart disease produced overt physical symptoms. That way, pet owners would know that something is wrong. But in reality things are different. Cats can appear completely normal yet die hours later because of advanced feline heart disease. The only way pet owners will know for sure is if they get their cat evaluated through regular physical exams. During these exams, a vet may perform further tests if they detect a heart murmur. These tests include: X-Rays, EKGs and echocardiograms. More information on each of these tests has been provided below.
X-Rays are very effective at detecting feline heart disease, because they give vets a visual picture of what is going on. How? It's simple. When hearts become diseased, they usually get enlarged because of the extra strain being placed on them. Additionally, fluid tends to accumulate in the chest cavity because the heart is not pumping as efficiently. X-Rays can pick up on both of these symptoms.
EKGs, (also known as electrocardiograms), test for feline heart disease by analyzing the heart's electrical activity. Through an electrocardiogram, doctors can detect whether or not there's changes in the animal's heart rate. This is specifically determined by the way the spikes appear on the readout. If the spikes are not normal, the cat could be suffering from feline heart disease, though not always, (since excitement or anxiety could bring about a similar result). If a vet thinks they are getting a false-positive EKG, they may order another one or try using another type of testing.
Echocardiograms offer a more advanced method when it comes to testing for feline heart disease. They work by using ultrasounds, the same technology that is often used for moderating fetus development. Through the ultrasound, vets get a clear picture of feline heart disease. In fact, the technology is similar to X-Rays in that it can provide a direct visual of what is going on. However, it is different because it can allow for a more in depth visual. For instance, with an echocardiogram, vets can detect fluid changes, blood clots, and heart defects. All of this can be done without putting the animal through any pain.
If any of the above-mentioned tests reveal that a cat has feline heart disease, vets will prescribe medication to treat the problem. Most of these medications will be specialized, though sometimes vets may recommend aspirin. Either way, as long as feline heart disease is detected early, most of the medications will be able to do their job.
In conclusion, you don't have to lose your cat to feline heart disease. By taking them to the vet regularly, you can get an idea of whether or not they have started developing the symptoms... at least internally. If they are, don't panic. Yes, feline heart disease is serious, but thanks to modern medical technology, it can be controlled when caught in time. So, just follow your vet's instructions, making sure you give them whatever medication they need. And, within time, your cat will return to normal, giving you many years of companionship.