ECG screening - a valuable tool we can offer for your pet!

posted: by: Tammy Chastain DVM Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

We are excited to make you aware of cardiac screening services we can offer for you and your pet!  Alexandria Animal Hospital has partnered with IDEXX telemedicine to offer ECG screens.  This is a quick and easy way to obtain an ECG on your pet and transmit it immediately to a veterinary cardiologist for interpretation.  Results are often returned to us in as little as five minutes.  There are many applications for this service, but we’d like to introduce you to just a few.

Pre-anesthetic screening.  For years we have stressed the importance of bloodwork prior to surgery or anesthesia.  Labwork assesses liver, kidney and other organ function, but tells us very little about the heart.  Heart arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm) or functional issues can be a major contributor to increased risks under anesthesia.  Fortunately, due to the safety measures we have in place, anesthetic complications are unusual.  However, the rare issues we have encountered have commonly been related to cardiac arrhythmias during the procedure.  Studies have shown that 1 in 25 cats and 1 in 20 dogs have an arrhythmia that could be missed without an ECG.  At our hospital an ECG will now be advised for any patient over 7 years of age and those having an audible heart murmur or arrhythmia during preanesthetic exam.  It will be an optional screening tool for all other patients prior to anesthesia.

Routine wellness screening.  Even if your pet does not have an anesthetic procedure scheduled, an ECG can be a valuable tool to assess his or her overall wellness.  Whether there are physical exam findings or patient history suggestive of heart disease or not, and ECG can provide either peace of mind or suggestions regarding further cardiac workup.  If you are interested in an ECG on your pet while you are in for a wellness visit, please let the technician or doctor know.  In many cases we can do it that day!

Emergency Scenarios:  This service allows us virtually immediate access to a cardiologist’s guidance and advice on emergency cases with an abnormal heart rhythm.  We are able to transmit an ECG and receive an immediate phone call from a cardiologist in these cases to help us intervene in an appropriate way.

Please do not hesitate to call with any questions regarding this service.  We are pleased to continue to offer more options to help your pet live a longer, happier, and healthier life.