Heart Murmurs

What is a heart murmur?

A heart murmur is an extra or unusual sound heard during a heartbeat. Murmurs range from very faint to very loud.

What causes a heart murmur?

A heart murmur is caused by turbulent blood flow within the heart. Sometimes a murmur is determined to be ‘innocent’ or ‘physiologic’, while other times the murmur is determined to be pathologic or caused by disease. Pathologic heart murmurs may be caused by a structural problem within the heart (i.e. cardiac disease), or can be due to a problem that is ‘extracardiac’ (i.e. not caused by heart disease).

The difference between an innocent/ or physiologic heart murmur and a pathologic murmur

An innocent or physiologic heart murmur is a heart murmur that has no adverse effect on the cat’s health and does not cause any symptoms or clinical signs.

How is a heart murmur treated?

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause creating the turbulent blood flow within the heart. However, it is important that the cat is monitored regularly to ensure that no other problems develop. If the heart murmur is deemed to be pathologic and is caused by an underlying problem, the treatment plan will be based on the diagnosis, and may include a combination of specialised diets, medications and supportive care.  Innocent/Physiologic heart murmurs do not require any treatment.

What is the prognosis?

The prognosis is entirely dependent on the cause of the murmur and ranges from excellent to grave.  Since each case is different you vet will discuss all available treatment options and individual prognosis for your cat with you.

By Gordon Roberts

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