New In-house Cardiology Referral Service
Peter has taken a well deserved break this week, giving me the opportunity to write about our new visiting Cardiology Referral Service from HeartVets.
For many years we have been carrying out cardiac ultrasounds and cardiology screening clinics for our own patients and occasionally as favours to other practices for their patients too.
We routinely screen smaller dogs (under 15kg’s) for Pre-Clinical Mitral Valve Disease (PCMVD). This occurs when the heart becomes enlarged due to a leaky Mitral valve. These dogs always have heart murmurs but are not yet in, or showing signs of, heart failure (hence the pre-clinical part of the name). Signs of heart failure are typically breathlessness, exercise intolerance and coughing but on occasion; weight loss, inappetence and more rarely, collapse. If we can prove PCMVD exists, there are medications available that can prevent the onset of signs of heart failure by an average of 15 months – quite a long time in anyone’s life, let alone our pets!
The second disease we can screen for is in medium and large dogs and called Dilated Cardiomyopathy. This is a progressive illness that can rapidly lead to heart failure. Again, medications are available to help manage clinical signs and to slow down progression of the disease. Dogs with this type of heart disease rarely have heart murmurs so the disease unfortunately remains hidden until clinical signs appear. A dogs breed, size and age are all potential risk factors and may warrant ultrasound screening to diagnose this illness.
Approximately 40% of cats also have heart murmurs and only an ultrasound will confirm if these murmurs are significant or not. The risk is that if left undiagnosed, heart conditions in cats can rapidly progress to a life threatening situation within hours. In-house blood tests can help us determine which patients are more at risk and should be screened more urgently with ultrasonography. Diagnosis allows us to not only medicate our cats, alleviating some of the clinical signs but to also reduce and even eliminate certain risk factors associated with congestive heart failure.
There are however, also a very large number of more complex heart conditions that require specialist investigation and intervention by a Cardiologist. Until now we, and most other practices, have had to refer pets to specialist referral centres where cardiologists are based. However, from the 4th of August, HeartVets will be visiting our Yeovil Practice once a month to see our own patients, internal referrals and also Cardiology cases from other local practices.
This is a significant step towards the early diagnosis of heart disease and the optimal treatment of heart disease in our pets, not only improving their quality of life but potentially saving their lives.
I am really excited to provide this specialist referral level of care for your pets, under our own roof.
If you would like more information or to make an appointment, please contact one of our surgeries and ask to speak to myself or one of the team.
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