Cardiology and Diagnostic Testing of the Heart
All Pets Emergency & Referral Center offers a variety of diagnostic tests to confirm and characterize your pet’s heart condition so that an appropriate treatment plan and prognosis can be obtained. The first part of a comprehensive cardiac examination is to obtain a thorough patient history and physical examination. Many pets have been having subtle signs for prolonged periods of time. Heart disease can be acute or insidious in its onset. Some of the tests available to diagnose heart problems include:
6 Lead Electrocardiography (ECGs): An electrocardiogram (ECG) provides information about your pet’s heart rate and rhythm. The 6 lead ECG allows evaluation of the heart conduction system from multiple angles and can be instrumental in helping diagnose your pet’s heart condition
Echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart): An echocardiogram or “echo” is a non-invasive ultrasound of the heart. It allows us to observe the heart in dynamic motion. Abnormalities in function, structure or flow can be readily seen with this technique. Echo’s do not normally require sedation and are completely painless. Pets will lie on the right side for one series of imaging and then put on the left side for the remaining imaging series. We can obtain valuable measurements of the heart muscle, chambers and function by using this technique.
Thoracic radiographs (x-ray): Thoracic radiographs (x-rays) provide a panoramic image of the structures within the chest cavity. We can assess the heart size and shape as well as changes within the lungs. Radiographs are essential in determining if left sided heart failure (fluid in the lungs – pulmonary edema) has developed. Radiographs also allow for evaluation of other possible abnormalities in the chest including fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion) and cancer.
Laboratory test analyses: Blood and urine tests can be used to diagnose and monitor certain heart conditions. Tests that may be recommended as a part of your pet’s heart healthcare include NT Pro-BNP and Troponin I levels. These are markers that are useful in monitoring and diagnosing heart damage. In addition, routine testing for electrolyte disturbances, kidney function and heartworm disease may be performed.
Blood pressure: Heart disease does not cause high blood pressure, although high blood pressure can result in, or worsen heart disease. Therefore, if high blood pressure is suspected, blood pressure analysis will be recommended as a part of your pet’s cardiac evaluation.