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Assessing cardiac causes in dyspnoeic cats

Published: 3/12/2018

Explore how primary care clinicians can stratify risk in these common cases in this article from Journal of Small Animal Practice (JSAP), our Official Scientific Journal.
  Professor Nick Jeffery, editor-in-chief of the JSAP, highlights a paper that looks at whether historical and clinical examination findings can be used to differentiate between acute cardiac and non-cardiac dyspnoea in cats in primary practice.

Dyspnoea is a common presentation in veterinary practice and can be associated with life-threatening diseases. Cats are adept at concealing clinical signs and subtle signs of a progressive disease may therefore be overlooked. Cats commonly present in extremis, and in such situations, rapid and accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause of the dyspnoea is imperative for appropriate patient management. Consequently, easily and rapidly obtained clinical information that has an established value to differentiate likely causes of dyspnoea is valuable to clinicians.

The February issue of JSAP carries an article by Dickson and co-workers that analyses physical examination characteristics in cats that present to primary care practice with dyspnoea. Cardiogenic dyspnoea cases tended to have lower body temperature and faster respiratory and heart rates (including gallop rhythms) than non-cardiac cases – and this may provide useful guidance on diagnostic decisions and initial therapy. Nevertheless, because the study included a large proportion of cardiac cases, readers will need to make up their own minds about whether the findings will apply to their own case population. Eagle-eyed scrutineers of the figures will also notice the familiar finding that, although there is an average difference in physical findings between different groups, individual cats may buck the overall trends!

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