Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Heart: failure - overview

Synonym(s): Cardiac failure

Contributor(s): Sarah Pellett, Livia Benato

Introduction

  • Cause: inability of the heart to pump sufficiently to maintain blood flow. Congestive heart failure in rabbits may be due to cardiomyopathy, tricuspid or mitral valve insufficiency. Less commonly, it could be due to congenital heart disease.
  • Signs: vary with underlying cause. Can be non-specific such as anorexia, weakness and weight loss. More specific signs include dypsnea, tachypnea, exercise intolerance, abdominal distension, heart murmur and cyanosis of the mucous membranes.
  • Diagnosis: clinical examination, auscultation, chest radiography, electrocardiography, echocardiography.
  • Treatment: depends on underlying cause. Combination of supportive care (oxygen, thoracentesis), diuretics, digoxin, venodilators, ACE inhibitors.
  • Prognosis: varies with underlying cause; little is published about rabbits in the literature.

Print off the Owner factsheet onHeart failure  Heart failure   to give to your clients.

Presenting signs

  • Varies with underlying cause.
  • Weakness, lethargy, exercise intolerance.
  • Anorexia, gastrointestinal stasis, weight loss.
  • Dyspnea and/or tachypnea.
  • Syncope.
  • Abdominal distension (ascites).
  • In some cases jugular vein distension or jugular pulses.

Acute presentation

  • Dyspnea.
  • Collapse.
  • Pale mucous membranes.
  • Cold extremities.
  • Sudden death.

Age predisposition

  • Little is published in rabbits.
  • Anecdotally reported as common finding in the geriatric rabbit (pet rabbits >4 years old).

Breed predisposition

  • Cardiomyopathy may be more common in larger breeds or rabbits such as New Zealand White and French Lops.

Pathogenesis

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Chitty J (2015) Cardiovascular disease in rabbits. Companion Animal 20 (2), 74-78 VetMedResource.
  • Vörös K, Seehusen F, Hungerbühler S et al (2011) Ventricular septal defect with aortic insufficiency in a New Zealand white rabbit. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 47 (4), e42-49 PubMed.
  • Pariaut R (2009) Cardiovascular physiology and disease of the rabbit. Vet Clin Exotic Anim Pract 12 (1), 135-144 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Di Girolamo N, Nicoletti A, Palmieri C & Selleri P (2014) First Description of an Atrial Septal Defect in a Rabbit. In: Proc Assoc Exotic Mammal Veterinarians Conference. Orlando, Florida. pp 4.
  • Orcutt C (2014) Cardiovascular Disease. In: BSAVA Manual of Rabbit Medicine. Eds: Meredith A & Lord B. BSAVA, Gloucester. pp 205-213.
  • Varga M (2014) Textbook of Rabbit Medicine. 2nd edn.  Butterworth Heinemann Elsevier, Edinburgh.
  • Kanfer S (2013) Transvenous Pacemaker Implantation for Complete Heart Block in a Rabbit. In: Proc Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians Conference. Sheraton City Centre, Indianapolis, Indiana. pp 6.
  • Oglesbee B (2011) Congestive Heart Failure. In: Blackwells Five Minute Veterinary Consult - Rodents. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester. pp 376-378.
  • Huston S M & Quesenberry K E (2004) Cardiovascular and Lymphoproliferative Disease. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 2nd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W.  W B Saunders, St Louis. pp 211-220.


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