By far the most common heart disease in cats is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The characteristic thickening of the muscle of the left ventricle seen with HCM affects the hearts ability to pump blood.
One complication is that blood clots form and dislodge from the heart and block blood flow in large arteries. The clots cause pain, nerve and muscle damage, and can lead to death. Treatment today is only minimally effective.
A study led by Fern Tablin, VMD, Ph.D., at UC Davis will analyze the activation of blood platelets – cells that help blood clot – in cats with HCM with the goal of early detection of the disease. Many affected cats show no signs. Others have labored or rapid breathing and lethargy.
Although a cause hasnt been determined, the disease strikes certain breeds, such as Maine Coons and Ragdolls, more commonly, suggesting a genetic predisposition. More information is available at www.vet.cornell.edu, keyword HCM.