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Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Cats (DCM)

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Related Symptoms or Diseases

DCM is thought to be the result of diverse processes that affect heart muscle cell function. Causes may include:

  • Deficiency of metabolic substrates (e.g. taurine)
  • Idiopathic (occurring without known cause)
  • Myocarditis (inflammation of the myocardium)
  • Severe global myocardial ischemia (lack of blood supply to the heart)
  • Toxic injury to the heart muscle cells that can be caused by some drugs (e.g. doxorubicin, potassium iodide toxicity)
  • Hyperthyroidism (chronic excess of thyroid hormone)
  • Persistently abnormal heart rhythms such as sustained ventricular or supraventricular tachycardia (reversible after some weeks if rhythm is controlled)
  • Chronic hypokalemia (low blood potassium) which may act by causing taurine deficiency in cats

    The vast majority of cases of DCM are idiopathic and probably predisposed by genetic factors. Most reported cases of DCM in the cat have developed secondary to taurine deficiency, but current cases are usually unresponsive to taurine supplementation, indicating there is another reason for cases.

    A number of other diseases can be easily confused with dilated cardiomyopathy unless an appropriate diagnostic evaluation is completed. Diagnostic tests should help exclude the following conditions from consideration:

  • Congenital heart disease (birth defects)

  • Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (genetically programmed thickening of the heart muscle)

  • Hyperthyroid heart disease in cats from thyroid tumors

  • Feline restrictive cardiomyopathy (scarring or fibrosis of the heart muscle in cats)

  • Hypertensive heart disease (heart enlargement from high blood pressure)

  • Pericardial diseases, which affects the lining around the heart

  • Mediastinal masses (tumors in the front part of the chest cavity)

  • Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle most difficult to diagnose)

  • Moderate to severe anemia, which can cause heart failure, especially in cats

  • Heartworm disease

  • Fever, which can cause heart murmurs

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