A practical guide to heart murmurs for veterinary nurses
Sunday, September 2, 2018
Heart murmurs are a relatively common finding in small animal medicine, and are additional sounds to the normal ‘lub’ and ‘dub’ heard on auscultation. The most common type of murmur recorded is a systolic murmur, and can be an indicator of disease severity in dogs with mitral valve disease. However, murmur intensity is not related to the severity of dilated cardiomyopathy, and in cats, having a murmur has been linked to a favourable outcome, while cats can have heart disease and have no heart murmur. It would be ideal if there was a heart murmur chart that correlated heart murmur auscultated, heart disease severity and anaesthetic risk. Unfortunately, such a thing does not exist, and it is up to the veterinary professionals involved, to interpret what heart murmurs mean and know which breeds are at risk of cardiac disease and/or cardiac failure. This means that the nurse needs to not only monitor heart rate, rhythm, and pulse quality, but also respiratory rate and effort, oxygen saturation and systolic blood pressure carefully in those suspected of, or those diagnosed with, cardiac disease.
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