Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Heart: arrhythmia

Contributor(s): Molly Varga, Anna Meredith

Introduction

  • Arrhythmia refers to a variation in the normal rhythm of the heart. Rabbits normally do not have a sinus arrhythmia. Arrhythmias are not commonly appreciated in rabbits and poorly reported in the literature other in an experimental context. Syncope has been anecdotally reported in some arrhythmic rabbits.
  • Cause: any disturbance in the normal electrical activity/conduction pathway of the heart. Multiple potential causes including electrolyte imbalance (Na/K/Ca), cardiac disease, severe stress, genetic predisposition or congenital malformations. No breed predisposition has been reported in pet rabbits.
  • Signs: none, to inappetence, weakness, collapse.
  • Diagnosis: cardiac auscultation, ECG.
  • Treatment:  depends on type of arrhythmia - drugs used include lidocaine, verapamil, glycopyrrolate, digoxin.
  • Prognosis: depends on cause of arrhythmia, ultimately life-limiting.

Presenting signs

  • May be none.
  • Weakness.
  • Inappetence.

Acute presentation

  • Collapse.
  • Dyspnea   Dyspnea  .
  • Death.

Sex predisposition

  • It has been shown that female rabbits are more susceptible to drug-induced long QT intervals and cardiac arrhythmias than males.

Cost considerations

  • Dependent on condition, diagnostic procedures required and on-going therapy: may prove expensive.

Special risks, eg anesthetic

  • Increased anesthetic risk (reduced cardiac output/cardiac arrest).

Pathogenesis

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Sequelae

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Lu H R, Remeysen P, Somers K et al (2001) Female gender is a risk factor for drug-induced long QT and cardiac arrhythmias in an in vivo rabbit model. J Cardio Electrophysiol 12 (5), 538-545 PubMed.
  • Martin M W, Darke P G & Else R W (1987) Congestive heart failure with atrial fibrillation in a rabbit. Vet Rec 121 (24), 570-571 PubMed.


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