Veazie Veterinary Clinic
1522 State Street, Veazie, ME
(207) 941-8840

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common acquired heart disease in cats, but rare in dogs. HCM is a primary heart muscle disease where the muscle walls thicken.

What causes HCM?

Similar to humans, cardiomyopathy appears to be a genetic disorder.  Cats are usually middle aged or older when signs emerge, however, the disease can be diagnosed at any age, often less than 5 years in purebred cats.

What are the consequences of a thickened heart?

The degree of thickening ultimately determines the severity of the disease.  As HCM develops, the structure and function of the heart are changed:

  • The wall becomes less flexible.
  • The ventricle is prevented from relaxing and stretching to fill with blood.
  • A bottleneck is created, where pressure backs up.
  • This eventually leads to heart failure.
  • Thickening can also lead to arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat) and sudden death.

Veazie-Vet-ultrasound-20How is it Diagnosed and treated?

  • HCM is diagnosed using an ultrasound.
  • Clinical signs can include open mouth breathing and lethargy.
  • Some cats show no signs at all until very late stages.
  • There is currently no cure for this HCM, but it can be managed with drugs that can relax the heart muscle and control heart rate and effort.