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Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy isHeart a genetic disease which affects cats, dogs, pigs and people. How it is passed on in generations is still not clearly discovered. Since the 1970's it is known that HCM is the common cause for heart failure, thrombus and sudden death in cats. A major study has been done on Maine Coon cats in the USA which indicates that HCM in these cats seems to be inherited by a single dominant gene.

HCM is characterized by an abnormal thickness of the heartmuscle, mainly at the height of the left side of the heart. Because of the thickening of the heartmuscle the heart becomes less elastic, through which the heart can fill itself less easy. A second consequence is that there is less space for the blood left in the left ventricle, which causes a smaller amount of blood to be pumped around at each heartbeat than normal. The thick heartmuscle can create turbulence in the blood, or the leaking of some valves. This can then cause a heartmurmur, which can heart2be heard by a vet with a stethoscope.

Cats with HCM can get fluid in or around their lungs which can lead to difficult breathing. Other animals may show no signs at all, but they can suddenly drop dead, mostly because of a sudden very severe rhythm disturbance. Some cats develop blood clots that may cause paralysis of the hind legs.

HCM is not a congenital defect, but a disease that develops very slowly. Cats that have HCM very often show no signs before they are six months old, and it can take several years before you can make a diagnosis of HCM. Therefore you must have a specialist performing an echocardiography report on several occasions.