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Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (MHC): symptoms, treatment and prevention


Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a syndrome which should be taken seriously as it is secondary to serious illness. Some cats show symptoms, while in other cases MHC is asymptomatic. Let’s find out what warning signs are needed, what the diagnosis of CMH is based on and whether there is treatment. Finally, let’s see if it’s possible to prevent feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

What is MHC (Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy)?

It is called CMH in French or HCM in the language of Shakespeare. It is feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a syndrome for which all the causes have not yet been identified. CMH corresponds to a thickening of the heart muscle (this is called myocardial hypertrophy).

CMH is sometimesgenetic origin. It manifests itself in a cat that suffers from heart disease, but not only. The evolution of CMH is therefore variable from one cat to another, over a short period (a few months) to very long (a few years).

Cats of any age can be affected by feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, whether they are alley cats or purebred cats. But it turned out that the most affected are for example the Sphynx, the Maine coon, the British (longhair and shurthair) as well as the Ragdoll.

In the majority of cases, CMH manifests itself in small felines that already suffer from hyperthyroidism, chronic renal failure or even hypertension.

MHC (feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy): symptoms

There are no very specific symptoms to this syndrome, and even worse: a very severely affected cat can be completely asymptomatic and even during a cardiac auscultation, no abnormality is detected. This is the reason why we sometimes deplore the sudden death of the animal. However, when manifestations are detectable, it can be:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • With a breath to the heart,
  • From an arrhythmia,
  • Tachycardia,
  • Pulmonary edema,
  • Quick and inexplicable fatigability on effort,
  • Paralysis of the hind limbs originating from a thrombus (clot).

At the slightest suspicious symptom, it is essential to see a veterinarian urgently. We understand in any case the importance of ensuring that your cat enjoys a regular follow-up since some small cats affected by CMH show no symptoms. If they are never seen by a veterinarian, there is therefore no chance that a pathology that could lead to feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy will be detected.

CMH: diagnosis and treatment

The feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy screening is difficult since during a cardiac auscultation with a stethoscope, the veterinarian may very well see a completely normal heartbeat. He must then look for an underlying disease.

Additional examinations to the clinical examination are required, such as x-ray thorax and a ultrasound which allows to measure the thickness of the wall of the myocardium but also to look for possible clots. A biochemical assessment can also be practiced as well as blood pressure measurement.

CMH has no specific treatment. But because it is a condition secondary to a pathology, the veterinarian must treat its cause after identifying it. He also takes care to prevent any possible complications. Also, the treatment protocol is always personalized. It should be noted that a hospitalization allowing to place the cat under oxygen therapy is essential when the animal suffers from sudden decompensation. This helps stabilize his heart and respiratory function.

Thereafter, the cat must undergo approximately twice a year reviews of surveillance through echocardiograms. This makes it possible to have an evaluation of the evolution of feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy after a well-managed treatment.

Preventing Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: The Solution

The best prevention solution at the moment is to detect carrier cats as early as possible in order to sterilize them so that they cannot reproduce and therefore transmit the responsible gene. However, genetic tests performed for these purposes are not very reliable.

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