What are Tear in the Heart in Cats?
The heart plays a vital role in your cat’s daily bodily function. Blood travels through the rest of the body via the heart’s muscular pumping mechanism. When the heart is damaged, blood flow can become impaired. A tear in the heart of cats can occur from either trauma or damage and interferes with appropriate blood flow. Blood can leak into the chest cavity, filling this space and further inhibiting adequate movement. Additionally, the larger the hole becomes the greater the risk for death. If you suspect your cat is suffering from a hole in the heart you should seek immediate veterinary assistance.
Symptoms of Tear in the Heart in Cats in Cats
While the symptoms of a tear in the heart of your cat will vary in severity, they will generally fall into similar categories involving loss of energy and general enthusiasm. Because small tears can heal and then re-tear, it is important to have your cat examined by a vet, especially if symptoms seem to decrease and then increase in severity. Signs to watch for include:
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Failure to grow or thrive in young kittens
Causes of Tear in the Heart in Cats in Cats
A tear in the heart of your cat will rarely develop spontaneously and is usually because of an underlying injury or condition. Some common causes include:
- Heart disease or degeneration
- Injury either directly to the heart or from severe impact
- Certain hereditary conditions
- Certain blood infections
Diagnosis of Tear in the Heart in Cats in Cats
Diagnosing a tear in the heart in your cat will begin with a veterinarian performing a thorough physical exam of your pet. During this initial exam, your vet will listen to your cat’s heartbeat using a common stethoscope. They will use this same device to listen for lung sounds and general noises in the chest cavity which may indicate a presence of fluid or blood. A hole in the heart, if large enough, will make a distinctive “whooshing” sound instead of the typical strong and distinct thumps of the normal heartbeat.
During this initial visit, you should provide your veterinarian with a complete medical and physical history of your cat and its symptoms. Of particular importance will be the timeline of progression in severity of symptoms. You should also let your vet know if your cat has recently experienced any trauma or if has spent time outdoors where they could have experienced an injury without your knowledge. Finally, any family history of heart issues in your cat’s relatives should also be pointed out.
Your vet will run a variety of diagnostic tests during your visit. First, they may perform a complete blood panel to rule out any infections that may have spread to the tissue of your cat’s heart. The most definitive tests will consist of imaging your cat’s heart. These procedures include ultrasound, MRI or CT scans and will provide a thorough picture of the internal structures of your cat’s heart. For each of these procedures, your cat will need to be anesthetized to guarantee complete immobility for the best possible picture. Your vet will discuss the risks of anesthesia with you prior to this procedure based on your pet’s particular condition, given the impact sedation can have on blood pressure and heart function.
Treatment of Tear in the Heart in Cats in Cats
Treatment of a tear in the heart in your cat will depend on the severity of the damage. In minor cases, your veterinarian may recommend monitoring your cat and administering certain supportive medications to regulate blood pressure or heart rhythm. In connection with this approach, your vet may also be able to perform a minor procedure using a fine needle and ultrasound or other imaging in order to drain the chest cavity of excess fluid. In cases of minor tears, the heart may be able to heal the injury and scar tissue will form over the area, resolving the issue.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the tear in your cat’s heart. Surgery on this area of the body is a delicate and time-consuming operation and will only be performed in the most severe of cases. Your cat will need to be fully anesthetized so that a highly specialized veterinarian can use tiny sutures to repair the tear in the heart muscle of your cat.
In some cases, the age of your cat or the severity of the tear will make surgery impossible or ineffective. In these cases, your vet will discuss quality of life issues with you and will help develop a plan for managing symptoms to prolong the life of your pet.
Recovery of Tear in the Heart in Cats in Cats
Depending on the severity of the condition, prognosis for recovery is guarded. If the tear in the heart heals spontaneously (on its own) your cat may live a normal healthy life. If surgery is required, recovery will depend on the owner carefully following the advice of the vet regarding post-surgical care. Your cat will need regular vet visits over the course of its life to monitor the healing process and to confirm that the injury site has not re-opened. Your cat may also suffer from slight exercise intolerance permanently because of the initial damage.