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Tear in the Heart in Dogs

Atrial Wall Tear

A dog's heart is divided into four chambers. The two upper chambers are the atria (singular: atrium), and lower chambers are the ventricles. In atrial wall tear, the wall of the atrium is ruptured. This typically occurs secondary to blunt trauma, but may be due to some other cause. As with other wounds, the protective mechanisms of the body take over and heal the tear, with resulting scar formation, but if the tear is significant, heavy bleeding can lead to sudden death. A major tear, at the least, can cause serious illness. Trauma of this type may occur in dogs of any breed, age, size, or gender.

Symptoms and Types

  • Sudden weakness
  • Fainting
  • Sudden death
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Ascites (abnormal collection of fluid in the abdomen)
  • Difficult breathing

Causes

  • Blunt trauma to the thoracic cavity (chest)
  • Neoplasm in the heart
  • Other cardiac diseases may play some role

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination on your dog, into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. Complete blood tests, with a biochemical profile, complete blood count and a urinalysis will be performed. However, these tests may not reveal much information for the diagnosis of this disease. For confirmation of an injury to the atrial wall, your veterinarian will use specific diagnostic procedures and tests. X-rays, ECGs, echocardiography, color Doppler studies, and other such techniques will reveal structural and functional abnormalities pertaining to the heart. Any defect in the atrial wall, or scar formation indicating a past injury may be visible using some of these techniques.

 
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