Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Heart: disease

Synonym(s): Cardiac disease

Contributor(s): Molly Varga, Anna Meredith, Aidan Raftery

Introduction

  • Cause: idiopathic, endocardiosis, bacterial endocarditis, bacterial myocarditis, coronavirus-induced cardiomyopathy, congenital, and drug induced, hypovitaminosis E.
  • Signs: generalized weakness, dyspnea, dysrhythmia, tachycardia. Less commonly ascites, episodes of syncope, cardiac murmur.
  • Diagnosis: radiography, ultrasound, electrocardiography, blood pressure measurements, hematology and biochemistry.
  • Treatment: oral furosemide, benazepril, diltiazem, lidocaine, digoxin; pimobendan, isosorbide mononitrate paste applied to the inner ear.
  • Prognosis: poor.

Presenting signs

  • Non-specific.
  • Generalized weakness and/or dyspnea are the most common.
  • Occasionally a rabbit with cardiac disease is presented because of collapsing episodes.

Age predisposition

  • Cardiac disease is rarely diagnosed in rabbits under 4 years old.
  • According to cases reported in literature and by authors experience, it is most commonly seen in older pet rabbits.

Sex predisposition

  • Cardiac disease shows no gender predisposition and neutering does not appear to affect susceptibility.

Breed predisposition

  • According to cases reported in literature and by authors experience, the larger breeds have a much higher incidence of cardiac disease.
  • French Lops   French Lop  and New Zealand Whites   New Zealand White  are the most common breeds presented to the author with cardiac disease.

Public health considerations

  • The coronavirus which has been associated with pleural effusion disease and cardiomyopathy in rabbits is antigenically related to human coronavirus strain 229E, and it has been suggested that the rabbit virus is actually a human contaminant.

Special risks

  • Rabbits with recognized cardiac pathology are an increased anesthetic risk   Anesthesia: overview  .
  • Rabbits have limited collateral circulation in the myocardium and are predisposed to ischemia due to coronary vasoconstriction. This can occur with prolonged catecholamine release, so reduction of stress is important.
  • Alpha-2 agonists have been associated with myocardial necrosis and fibrosis.
  • Use an anesthetic induction regime that has minimum cardiorespiratory effects, eg midazolam   Midazolam  as a premedication followed by propofol   Propofol  induction.
  • Preoxgenate for 5 min.
  • Intubate and maintain on minimum dose sevoflurane   Sevoflurane  , or if not available, isoflurane   Isoflurane  .
  • Place an intravenous catheter   Intravenous catheter placement  .

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 fromPubMed.
  • Reusch B (2005)Investigation and management of cardiovascular disease in rabbits. In Pract27(8), 418-425.
  • Marini R P, Li X, Harpster N K & Dangler C (1999)Cardiovascular pathology possibly associated with ketamine/xylazine anaesthesia in Dutch Belted rabbits. Lab Anim Sci49(2),153-160PubMed.
  • Hurley R J, Marini R P, Avison D L  et al(1994)Evaluation of detomidine anesthetic combinations in the rabbit. Lab Anim Sci44, 472-477PubMed.
  • Deeb B J, DiGiacomo R F, Evermann J F & Thouless M E (1993)Prevalence of coronavirus antibodies in rabbits. Lab Anim Sci43(5), 431-433PubMed.
  • Alexander L K, Small J D, Edwards S & Baric R S (1992)An experimental model for dilated cardiomyopathy after rabbit coronavirus infection. J Infect Dis166(5), 978-985PubMed.
  • Maxwell M P, Hearse D J & Yellon D M (1987)Species variation in the coronary collateral circulation during regional myocardial ischaemia: a critical determinant of the rate of evolution and extent of myocardial infarction. Cardiovasc Res21, 737-746PubMed.
  • Simons M & Downing S E (1985)Coronary vasoconstriction and catecholamine cardiomyopathy. Am Heart J109, 297-304PubMed.
  • Weber H W & Van der Walt J J (1975)Cardiomyopathy in crowded rabbits. Recent Adv Stud Cardiac Struct Metab6, 471-477PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Orcutt C J (2002)Cardiac Disease.In: Proc 45th BSAVA Congresspp 359-362.
  • Review of cases seen at the Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic, Manchester, UK.


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