A cardiac arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm caused by some disruption or irregularity in the heart’s electrical activity. Some cats live a healthy life with heartbeat arrhythmias, while others are affected more severely.
Symptoms of Heartbeat Arrhythmia
Cardiac arrhythmias can occur in cats of either sex and in all ages and breeds. Many owners are unaware that their cat has an arrhythmia until it is identified incidentally during a routine physical examination. When clinical signs do appear, they frequently are nonspecific and varied. The owner may notice that the cat is less active than usual, is intolerant of exercise or just tires easily. Severe arrhythmias can lead to coughing, fainting spells, abdominal distention and discomfort, difficulty breathing, weakness, fatigue, collapse and sudden death. It is not unusual for some combination of these signs to appear suddenly and then disappear just as rapidly, often not reappearing for weeks to months. These signs are not exactly signs of arrhythmias, but of heart disease.
If you notice any of these signs or patterns in your cat, it is important that visit with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Heartbeat arrhythmias can often be managed through medication and lifestyle changes, but the cause of the arrhythmia is not always easy to diagnose.