Cardiology

The Cardiology Service of Seattle Veterinary Specialists is staffed by Bryan Bottorff, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (Cardiology), full-time in Kirkland and Bryan Eason, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (Cardiology), part-time Downtown Seattle. The services receive cases usually by referral for dogs, cats, and horses. Cardiac disease in animals can range from asymptomatic, non-progressive disease to severe disease requiring intensive care and oxygen support. Most often animals are referred to our veterinary cardiology specialists for a heart murmur (an abnormal heart sound that usually indicates turbulent blood flow) or clinical signs that may indicate cardiac disease (such as exercise intolerance, lethargy, persistent cough, difficulty breathing, collapse, or swollen abdomen or limbs). A pet cardiology appointment will most often consist of a thorough cardiovascular physical examination, echocardiogram, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), and thoracic radiographs (chest x-rays). 

Echocardiogram

The echocardiogram is a sonogram of the heart. It is performed with the patient laying on his or her side, usually unsedated. Using technologies such as two dimensional harmonic imaging and Doppler modalities such as pulse wave, continuous wave, color flow, and tissue velocity imaging, the echocardiogram is a dynamic view of the cardiac structures for comprehensive assessment of the heart’s function. This allows the detection and classification of valvular insufficiencies, outflow obstructions, congenital heart defects, cardiac tumors, and cardiomyopathies resulting in abnormal pump function or relaxation properties.

Electrocardiogram

An electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) is a simple, painless test that records the heart's electrical activity. With each heartbeat, an electrical signal spreads from the top of the heart to the bottom. As it travels, the signal causes the heart to contract and pump blood in a very synchronous fashion. The process repeats with each new heartbeat. These electrical signals set the rhythm of the heartbeat. This test is used to detect and evaluate for arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), which can be very fast or very slow and can cause fainting, weakness, or lethargy.How fast the heart is beating

An EKG shows whether the rhythm of the heartbeat is normal or abnormal.

Thoracic Radiology

X-rays allow the visualization of the cardiac structures as well as the lungs and the rest of the chest. If there is a suspicion for congestive heart failure (CHF) (fluid in the lungs), then x-rays are indicated as they are the best way to assess the lungs. When a patient has problems breathing or is coughing, the x-rays are very helpful in determining if there is fluid, air, or a mass that may be compromising the lungs, resulting in difficulty breathing or coughing, in addition to determining if the heart is enlarged.

Additional Diagnostics

Additional diagnostics that are provided by the cardiology service to enable a comprehensive cardiovascular evaluation include blood pressure evaluation, Holter monitoring (24 hour at home ECG monitoring), transesophageal echocardiography and contrast echocardiography. Cardiac breed certifications can also be performed by the service.

Not only is diagnosis of the disease important, but also client communication and education. Therefore, we strive to educate owners regarding their pet's disease, including signs to monitor for, medications that are used, and complications that may arise. In addition, communication with the referring veterinary community is important for the best care and management of patients with cardiac disease. The goal of cardiac consultation is to determine a plan with both the owner and veterinarian to identify if underlying heart disease is present, to monitor for progression of previously identified heart disease, or to help manage disease so that a patient may enjoy a good quality of life.

Interventional Cardiology

Seattle Veterinary Specialists Kirkland is the only veterinary referral hospital in Western Washington to have established a complete interventional cardiac catheterization lab. Services include patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) closure via Amplatz Canine Ductal Occluder, balloon valvuloplasty for pulmonic stenosis, pacemaker implantation, invasive pressure measurements, and angiography. Eligible candidates will receive full cardiac examination including echocardiogram, ECG, and x-rays before an interventional procedure is recommended.