Ventricular Septal Defect
What is Ventricular Septal Defect?
VSD is a rare congenital heart condition that is incorrectly referred to as a “hole in the heart.” In reality, there is no hole in the heart, but rather a hole between the two ventricles because the walls (septa) separating them failed to develop completely. It may be large or small with the larger the defect the more heart related problems that will develop. Associated heart conditions may include congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension.
How does my cat get VSD?
In most cases, cats with this heart defect do not have a family history of this disease and often, the cause is unknown.
How do I know if my cat has VSD?
Kittens with VSD usually show signs of having trouble breathing. They may not act like a typical frisky, playful kitten and cough, even faint due to inadequate blood flow. In other kittens, no outward signs are evident and the condition is only suspected after your veterinarian detects a heart murmur while using a stethoscope. Ultrasound and chest radiographs are usually then ordered. A diagnosis can be confirmed by using a procedure called color flow Doppler echocardiography.
What can I do about VSD?
Treatment options are limited. In those cases where the kitten is not showing signs there may be no restrictions needed. In those cases where congestive heart failure has developed, treatment includes a variety of medications, exercise restriction, and dietary management. In those cases where heart failure has developed, the prognosis is very grave. There are only a few hospitals around the country that will be able to perform the necessary surgical procedure to close the defect.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my cat from getting VSD?
Prevention is based upon careful breed selection.
Are there certain breeds that get VSD more often?
No cat breed is particularly predisposed to this condition.