Your veterinarian may have recommended a cardiac consultation if your pet has a heart murmur, an irregular heart rhythm, or there is concern about possible heart disease due to your pet’s breed, diet, or even other clinical signs like coughing or collapse episodes.
What is involved in a cardiology Consultation?
A mobile cardiology consultation is a ½ hour appointment where the board certified cardiologist reviews your pet’s medical history, examines your pet, listens to your pet’s heart, performs an echocardiogram, and may also perform a 6-lead ECG. The veterinary nurse reviews your pet’s history, current medications, and gathers basic vitals, including blood pressure, on your pet.After gathering all of this information, the cardiologist will write a report of her findings and recommendations. Established clients will have a phone consultation arranged the following day with Dr. Morris to discuss the findings of the evaluation.
After your pet’s initial cardiology consultation, follow-up consultations will be recommended based on how advance the heart disease is to best time medication changes and other recommendations.
An echocardiogram collects both still and moving images of your pet’s heart. The cardiologist performs the echo study and uses this information to measure the size of the heart chambers and the heart’s function as well as assess for leaky valve problems. This information is used to not only diagnoses the type of heart disease your pet but how significant the heart disease it to your pet’s health.. This information is critical to providing the optimal treatment plan for your pet.
Your pet does not need to be sedated in most instances. Some cats will require administration of Gabapentin, which is great oral sedative in cats. However, if the nature of the cats permits Dr. Morris prefers to evaluate your pet without this medication so as to remove any possible confounding drug effects on the heart rhythm or heart function.
Your pet will be lifted onto a table, a small amount of fur will be clipped from the armpit region on the lower chest and a water soluble, non-toxic gel is applied to the skin to facilitate imaging. The image aquistion requires about 10 to 15 minutes and you will be present during the exam and echo study. Dr. Morris performs measurements, comparisons to previous echo studies and analysis of the information obtained at the visit. She creates a report which is emailed to both the pet owner and primary care vet within 24 to 48 hours of the mobile appointment.
An EGC looks at your pet’s heart rhythm, or electrical activity. If your pet is having an abnormal rhythm, this 3-5 minute recording enables the cardiologist to view the rhythm and determine the type of abnormality. Depending on the findings, the cardiologist may recommend treatment with medications or a 24-holter monitor to further clarify the significance of the rhythm.
To obtain an ECG recording, your pet will in some instances be restrained on his/her side, in other patients they will be performed with the patient standing. A small amount of alcohol is applied to the fur/skin and small, non-painful clips are attached to the skin to make the recording of the electrical activity of the heart.
A 24-Holter monitor is much like an ECG, the only difference is it monitors your pet’s heart rate and rhythm over 24 hours in their home environment. The holter monitor is used for a variety of reasons. The cardiologist uses the holter monitor to identify intermittent abnormal heart beats (arrhythmia’s) that may not have been present on ECG, to determine if collapse or suspected syncopal events are due to abnormal heart beats , determine if an arrhythmia is dangerous to your pet’s health, and determine whether medications are adequately controlling of your pet’s arrhythmia.
Your pet will have a small amount of fur clipped from the chest wall to apply ECG stickie electrodes to the skin. A small amount of tape will be used to hold the electrodes securely to the skin. The holter monitor leads are clipped to the electrodes applied to the skin and on the other end to the digitial monitor. A comfortable vest is placed on your dog which helps to hold the recording leads in place and protect and hold the monitor itself within a pocket in the vest. Your pet will go home with the monitor on, and wear this at home for 24 hours. You will be instructed to keep a diary of your pets activity during the recording and return the monitor, and vest.