Heart murmurs can be serious business. Sometimes they are "innocent," or not life threatening, but they can also be a sign that something is wrong, and when it comes to the heart it is best not to take chances. Learn what types of treatment options are out there.
Hearing a heart murmur can be disconcerting, considering the array of possible causes and the varying levels of severity. Many times the tell-tale is nothing to worry about, but this sound can be a harbinger of dark clouds on the horizon. Considering the vital nature of the organ in question, it helps to know the myriad ways a cat heart murmur can be treated.
Heart Murmurs Caused by Heart Disease
Many times, when a vet hears a heart murmur, what they are actually hearing is a symptom of another heart disease, which can receive any of a wide number of treatments, according to the type. For treating a heart murmur caused by a congenital or acquired heart disease, surgery may be needed to correct the problem. However, several different medications may be prescribed, depending on the specific condition causing the murmur, that can help alleviate that telltale.
Removing fluid from the lungs, diuretics are typically the first line of defense against heart disease.
Diuretics are a type of medication used to treat heart disease in cats.
Diuretics help treat heart disease in cats by helping the kidneys remove excess fluid from the bloodstream. This reduces the amount of fluid that can build up in your cat's lungs, which may cause shortness of breath or coughing.
Popular diuretics include:
For cats and dogs suffering from excess water retention
Rids the body of excess fluid
Effective means of balancing electrolytes
Can cause excessive urination and thirst
Inhibits the aldosterone hormone, which is released in excess during heart failure and is responsible for the retention of sodium and the excretion of potassium into the kidneys
Reduces fluid accumulation that occurs in some cases of heart disease
Side effects are typically mild and include dehydration, low blood sodium, high blood potassium, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.
As vasodilators, these drugs help expand blood vessels, helping ease the passage of blood through the heart, making its job simpler.
ACE inhibitors help regulate your cat's blood pressure by blocking the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) from converting angiotensin I into angiotensin II. Angiotensin II is responsible for increasing the amount of water that's retained by the kidneys, which raises your cat's blood pressure. By blocking its production, ACE inhibitors prevent this increase in water retention and lower your cat's blood pressure.
Popular ACE inhibitors are:
Nutrients to help prevent cardiac disease
Eases stress on blood vessels
Causes low blood pressure, weakness, upset stomach, and kidney failure. If your cat experiences any of these side effects, consult a vet immediately
Treats heart failure, high blood pressure, heart valve disease, and some forms of kidney disease
Dilates the veins and decreases fluid retention
Side effects are rare but include loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea
Typically the last resort because of the high risk of negative side effects. A popular positive inotrope is:
Treats congestive heart failure, heart rhythm disorders, and dilated cardiomyopathy
Affects the sodium and potassium content in your pet’s heart, reducing the strain
Side effects include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, lack of coordination, and weakness
Extracardiac Heart Murmurs
Sometimes the heart murmur is a sign of something not directly related to the heart or extracardiac. Common extracardiac causes include anemia, hypoproteinemia, infections, fevers, pregnancy, or hyperthyroidism. To rid your pet of an extracardiac heart murmur like the ones listed above, the treatment should target the root cause. So, treating a heart murmur caused by anemia could be resolved by putting your cat on a high iron diet or a high protein diet in cases of hypoproteinemia. For high protein diets, try the Purina Pro Plan cat food.
High-protein cat food is a good option for cats with kidney disease, urinary tract disorders, diabetes, and obesity. These conditions are common among cats and can lead to health problems if they aren't treated.
High-protein cat food is also beneficial for cats who have been diagnosed with cancer or hyperthyroidism. Cats in these situations may need to be put on a low-sodium diet to keep them from developing complications related to their condition. A high-protein diet can help control their sodium intake while still providing essential nutrients that will help keep them healthy.
Hyperthyroidism, or an overproduction of thyroid hormone, can be treated with drugs like:
An anti-thyroid tablet reduces the amount of thyroid hormone being produced
Side effects are rare, but can be serious, such as a decreased white blood cell count
Infections, depending on their nature, can be treated with any of several antibiotics that may be effective against whatever strain of bacteria may be causing the murmur.
Worm-Related Heart Murmurs
A subcategory of extracardiac heart murmurs, and one that generally only affects young cats, is a major infestation of worms, such as roundworms, hookworms, ringworms, or heartworms and can be treated with a cat dewormer. These infections can sometimes cause heart murmurs. These should be treated with your standard dewormer for cats. Some of these are available over the counter. Some of the most popular options are:
Tapeworm dewormer for cats are available over the counter
Unhooks tapeworm from your cat's intestinal wall so they can be digested and killed
Safe on cats six weeks and older
Other than these, there are many other dewormers like the Revolution for Cats and the Revolution Plus for Cats. There is also Bravecto for Cats that you can use as a dewormer.
Feeding your cat a balanced and healthy diet also helps deal with heart problems. Try the Blue Buffalo Cat food for this. The Blue Wilderness Cat Food can provide the nutrition your cat needs to keep heart problems at bay. However, never give cats raw meat since they can intensify their heart problems in them. You can also try using interactive cat toys to play with your cat. This will help reduce their stress and keep them entertained, which is good for their heart.