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Heart Valve Infection (Infective Endocarditis) in Cats

Infective Endocarditis in Cats

Inflammation of the inner lining of the heart is medically referred to as endocarditis. Infective endocarditis can occur in response to any infection of the body. Generalized infections in the body may invade the inner lining of heart, as well as the valves of the heart. If the underlying disease if not treated in time, complications can lead to heart failure and death. This condition is rarely seen in cats.

Symptoms and Types

Variable set of symptoms may be present in patient depending upon the nature and site of infection, complications and extent of affects on heart. The following symptoms may be present in an affected cat:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Bluish discoloration of the skin
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss
  • Reluctance to move
  • Body aches and pains
  • Symptoms related to heart problems
  • Difficult breathing
  • Intermittent lameness
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances

Causes

  • Bacterial Infections
  • Previous major surgery

Diagnosis

You will need to give your veterinarian a complete background history for your cat, including information about the onset of symptoms, any illnesses or injuries your cat has experienced, any surgical procedures, and the duration and frequency of symptoms that have been apparent.

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination, including basic laboratory testing: a complete blood count (CBC) test, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. The results of these tests may reveal information related to the underlying infection, and may point to the organs being affected.

Blood cultures will help to determine the causative agent involved in the infection and will also allow your veterinarian to determine the most suitable antibiotics for treatment of the underlying infection. A visual examination of the heart, using radiographic (i.e., X-ray) studies can help your veterinarian to determine the extent of heart involvement, and echocardiography, which uses ultrasound to image the inner organs, is an excellent tool for a detailed evaluation of the heart's functioning ability. Your veterinarian will also need to measure the electrical activity of the heart, which is done using an electrocardiogram (ECG) to record the heart's movement and impulses.

 
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