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Scientific Studies Address Feline Heart Disease

By Jean Vore

Scientists work to identify clotting risk factors

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common type of heart disease in cats. As veterinarians well know, thromboembolisms are frequent complications of HCM, and current therapies are only minimally effective.

Funded by Morris Animal Foundation, researchers from the University of California–Davis are studying cats with an inherited genetic defect that leads to HCM. They have analyzed the reactivity of blood platelets and endothelial cells in cats with HCM and how reactivity relates to the presence and severity of heart disease. Preliminary data suggest that cats with HCM have significant platelet activation, which may be a strong contributor to clotting problems.

Results of this study will lead to new testing methods that will ultimately improve diagnosis, treatments and long-term care of cats suffering from HCM.

Additionally, researchers determined that cats with moderate to severe disease have an increased level of a particular plasma protein. Researchers hope to use this protein as a biomarker to detect cats at risk before they develop clinical disease.

Researchers are also determining whether cats with HCM have increased numbers of microvesicles in their blood, which may cause the blood to clot more readily. Measuring microvesicle levels could help veterinarians diagnose HCM. Researchers are finishing the final phase of the study, which involves developing a consistent method to evaluate endothelial cell activation in the blood and determine the risk for HCM in cats.

Study tests effectiveness of beta-blockers

In another Morris Animal Foundation– funded project, researchers from North Carolina State University are monitoring cats undergoing treatment with the beta- blocker atenolol to better determine whether early medical therapy improves the outcome for cats with asymptomatic HCM.

Veterinary advances and owners’ increased willingness to pursue diagnostic tests have helped identify more cats with asymptomatic HCM in recent years. Many of these cats are treated with beta-blocker cardiac medications, which are effective in some humans with HCM; however, the long-term effects and benefits of this treatment have not been established in cats. This study will provide veterinarians with valuable data on the effects of beta-blockers on disease progression and quality of life.

Posted by MAF on October 15, 2012.

Categories: Animal health, Cat diseases, Veterinary research


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