Nav: Home

Researchers pioneer use of new method to treat life-threatening heart arrhythmias in dogs

December 10, 2018

Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers have developed a new treatment for dogs with a rare, but life-threatening, arrhythmia caused by atrioventricular accessory pathways (APs). The minimally invasive technique, which uses radiofrequencies, is modified from a human cardiology procedure and has a more than 95 percent success rate in treating dogs with this type of arrhythmia.

The technique, radiofrequency catheter ablation (RFCA), was adapted by Dr. Kathy N. Wright and her colleagues at MedVet, a family of emergency and specialty veterinary hospitals around the United States. The team published their findings in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

"Accessory atrioventricular pathways are one of the more common causes of rapid heart rhythms in young dogs and we were pleased to prove they are curable with radiofrequency catheter ablation," said Dr. Wright. "The dogs can then go on to have their hearts recover and be off all heart drugs within a period of three months, and then go on to live normal lives."

APs are abnormal electrical circuits in the heart that can become activated and overcome the heart's normal current pathways, severely impairing its ability to pump. RFCA uses radiofrequencies to destroy those rogue circuits and allow the heart's normal function to resume.

"Dr. Wright's study demonstrated that radiofrequency catheter ablation is a safe and highly effective alternative to lifelong medications and repeated veterinary visits for dogs," said Dr. Kelly Diehl, Interim Vice President of Scientific Programs at Morris Animal Foundation. "Even better is that it's a long-term solution for a problem that can be fatal if left untreated."

In this study, the team used RFCA to treat 89 dogs with AP-related arrhythmia. While 23 breeds were represented, more than half of the patients were Labrador retrievers, as APs are more prevalent in that breed. The researchers threaded a catheter into each dog's heart and then delivered radio waves toward the APs.

Each dog was monitored with telemetry for at least 16 hours after the procedure and before they were discharged. Within two months, the dogs' heart activity was measured to determine the procedure's effectiveness. In all but three dogs, initial treatment with RFCA cured the arrhythmia. The remaining dogs were cured with a second treatment.

Once considered relatively harmless rhythm disturbances, APs are now known to cause rapid heart rhythms that can result in congestive heart failure or sudden death. Symptoms can include extreme fatigue and gastrointestinal distress, including lack of appetite and vomiting. These symptoms are similar to other common health problems in dogs, making the condition difficult to diagnose. It's not known how APs are created.
-end-
About Morris Animal Foundation

Morris Animal Foundation's mission is to bridge science and resources to advance the health of animals. Founded by a veterinarian in 1948, we fund and conduct critical health studies for the benefit of all animals. Learn more at morrisanimalfoundation.org.

Morris Animal Foundation

Related Dogs Articles:

Hidden danger from pet dogs in Africa
Researchers at the Universities of Abuja and Nigeria, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, have detected a potentially human-infective microbe in pet dogs in Nigeria.
How humans have shaped dogs' brains
Dog brain structure varies across breeds and is correlated with specific behaviors, according to new research published in JNeurosci.
Parasitic worms infect dogs, humans
A human infective nematode found in remote northern areas of Australia has been identified in canine carriers for the first time.
Better prognosticating for dogs with mammary tumors
For dogs with mammary tumors, deciding a course of treatment can depend on a variety of factors, some of which may seem to contradict one another.
Dogs mirror owner's stress
The levels of stress in dogs and their owners follow each other, according to a new study from Linköping University, Sweden.
More Dogs News and Dogs Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...