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Tear in the Heart in Cats


Atrial Wall Tear in Cats


A cat’s heart can be divided into four chambers. The upper chambers are called the atria (singular: atrium), and the lower chambers are called the ventricles. An atrial wall tear involves a rupturing of the atrium wall, which occurs mainly in response to blunt trauma. As with other wounds, the protective mechanisms of the body take over and heal the tear, with resulting scar formation, but if the tear is significant, the injury can lead to sudden death, or at the least cause serious illness. Trauma of this type can occur in cats of any breed, age, size, or gender.


Symptoms and Types


  • Sudden weakness
  • Fainting
  • Sudden death
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Ascites (abnormal collection of fluid in the abdomen)
  • Difficult breathing




  • Blunt trauma to the thoracic cavity (chest)
  • Neoplasm in the heart
  • Other cardiac diseases may play some role




Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your cat, taking into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. Standard test will be performed, including complete blood tests, a biochemical profile, and a urinalysis. However, these tests may not reveal much information for the diagnosis of this disease. For confirmation of an injury to the atrial wall, your veterinarian will use specific diagnostic procedures and tests. X-rays, ECGs, echocardiography, color Doppler studies, and other such techniques will reveal structural and functional abnormalities pertaining to the heart. Any defect in the atrial wall, or scar formation indicating a past injury may be visible using some of these techniques.





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