The diagnosis of a cardiac problem begins with a complete physical exam on your pet. You may have noticed a change in breathing patterns, energy level or something as big as a collapse. The doctor may hear a murmur, an abnormal rate or rhythm of the heart, or abnormal lung sounds.
A radiograph (X-ray) is used as a diagnostic tool in providing information about the topographic locale, and the type and extent of thoracic disease. Here at GHVH we have digital radiography. The high resolution of the radiograph allows us to obtain much more information from our radiographs than is possible with the traditional x-ray. The time it takes to take a radiograph with the digital machine is significantly less than with traditional x-rays, thereby increasing our efficiency.
A radiograph can serve to verify a diagnosis, they document the extent and location of a lesion, they assist in detecting complications, are helpful in classifying lesions based on morphology, and are helpful in suggesting additional procedures that may need to be performed.
One of those additional procedures can be bloodwork, and a urinalysis may be recommended. A complete blood count (CBC) provides information about red and white blood cells and platelets. A blood chemistry provides information about the kidney, liver, and pancreas. Electrolytes are checked to make sure the levels are in proper ratio. Since urine contains byproducts from many organs, we may check urine for abnormalities.
Often times when we suspect cardiac disease, we will recommend performing an EKG (Electrocardiogram). An EKG is a painless procedure and lets us evaluate the electrical impulses being transmitted through the heart muscle during different phases of the cardiac cycle. In most cases, a board- certified cardiologist’s interpretation can be obtained within 24 hours of the test being run.
In some cases, a cardiac ultrasound may need to be performed. This is a wonderful, non-invasive tool, which allows us to visualize the inside of the heart and how the valves are working.
If your pet has a cardiac condition, many or all of these tests may need to be repeated on a regular basis to help determine the body’s response to therapy. This will help the patient live a longer and healthier life.