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At Veterinary Cardiology Partners, we understand that knowing your pet has a heart problem can be stressful.  We want to help alleviate your worries by preparing you for what to expect at your initial visit.  Tests for diagnosing and monitoring heart disease are non-invasive and, in many cases, can be performed in the exam room with you present.


A thorough review of your pet's history and a complete physical exam are very important tools for understanding how your pet is doing on a day to day basis and for establishing a baseline.  Dr. Drourr or your veterinarian will begin by asking you questions and discussing any symptoms your pet is having.  Changes in behavior at home, such as sleeping in a different position, may seem unrelated but actually can be important indicators of your pet's disease process.  A thorough physical exam, including identifying specific heart and lung sounds, will be completed and documented for comparison at follow-up visits.  


Based on your pet's individual needs, other diagnostic tests will be recommended.  The most common tests performed are blood tests, blood pressure, chest xrays, a heart ultrasound (echocardiogram), and an electrocardiogram (EKG).  With the exception of xrays, these tests can usually be performed in the exam room with you present.  Each of these tests provides important information to the process of creating a complete picture of your pet's disease.  Blood tests help to identify how the systems of the body are working in the presence of your pet's heart problem.  There are also specific heart enzymes that can be tested in the blood to help track the progression of heart disease.  A blood pressure provides information about the workload the heart is facing, and what is happening with the vessels throughout the body.  Chest xrays allow an analysis of the size of the heart and it's major vessels, as well as a view of the lungs.  An echocardiogram is the only way to see the heart in motion, and is a vital tool in evaluating the structure and function of the heart.  The EKG shows the electrical activity of the heart and allows for a full analysis of heart rate, rhythm, and irregular beats.  Other special tests are available and will be recommended as needed.


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