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Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common arrhythmias in dogs and is usually associated with a faster than normal heart rate. It frequently occurs in dogs with cardiac disease and it contributes to worsening of the clinical signs of congestive heart failure.
Medical management of this arrhythmia aims at reducing the fast and irregular heart rate.
Echocardiographic image of a normal dog. The left atrium is normal dimensions and the heart rate is within normal limits. LA, left atrium; LV, left ventricle; RA, right atrium; RV, right ventricle.
Echocardiographic image of a dog with heart failure and atrial fibrillation with a very fast heart rate. LA, left atrium; LV, left ventricle; RA, right atrium; RV, right ventricle.
In humans this rate control strategy has been shown to improve the quality of life of the patients and also their longevity. The optimal heart rate to prolong the life of affected dogs and improve their quality of life remains undetermined at present. However, a preliminary study has shown that slower heart rates may prolong the survival time of these patients.
A multicentre prospective study will investigate further this arrhythmia and its impact on the quality and quantity of life of our patients. Our cardiology team are leading a multi-centre prospective study to further investigate control of atrial fibrillation and therefore from January onwards we will be recruiting dogs with atrial fibrillation.
Every dog included in the study will have an initial full cardiac work-up at a reduced and fixed cost. This will include full blood work (including biomarkers), blood pressure, ECG, echocardiography and Holter +/- thoracic radiographs.
Follow up consultation and assessment will include echocardiography and Holter ECG monitoring along with any other indicated tests for a significantly reduced and fixed fee.