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  • What is HCM?
  • Symptoms
  • Heritability
  • Heart screening

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a genetic heart disease that is found among dogs, cats, pigs and humans.
The disease causes the heart valves to thicken, and we cannot seem to find an obvious reason for why it occurs. The condition is heritable, and are caused by defects in the genes that regulates the growth of the heart muscle. When the heart muscle is thickened it weakens the heart’s elasticity and flexibility, making the heart less efficient in it’s crucial job of providing the body cells with oxygen though the bloodstream.
The disease might cause the heart to stop, or cause the cat to develop blood clots or other severe complications, in worst case the consequence is sudden death.

HCM is classified into either primary- or secondary HCM. One might compare this to diabetes type 1 and 2, where type 1 is due to hereditary and genetics, while type 2 develops caused by physiological issues like obesity, high bloods pressure, elevated metabolism values.

HCM is not a visual disease, an affected cat may show few to no symptoms at all.
Some symptoms that may occur:
difficulties breathing
– panting
– latitude
– reduced appetite
– paralysis of hind legs
The veterinary may pick up on heart murmur on a regular examination of the cat, although HCM usually doesn’t give itself away through a stethoscope.
Cases of HCM increases with the age of the cats, most of the cats with the disease will have expressed some of the symptoms by the age of 5 years.
The progression of the illness varies with the severity, in some cases the illness is mild and may be treated. In other cases it happens rapidly caused by blood clots for instance where the cat dies suddenly.

It’s several factors contributing to the development of HCM, where heritage is one of them.
Maine Coon tests for the mutation A31P for HCM on the MyBPC3 gene which is a mutation that may increase the risk of developing the disease.
Cats with one copy of A31P (N/HCM) is called «heterozygote» and may be mated with a cat that is clear (N/N). Cats with two copies of A31P (HCM/HCM), or with the diagnosis HCM shall not be used in breeding.

DNA testing is not adequate to exclude HCM, therefore it is recommended to perform ultrasound screening of the heart when the cat’s 1, 2, 3, 5 and 8 years old (PawPeds health program).
The Swedish non-profit organisation PawPeds arranges health programs within testing of different diseases, and registreres the results in their own database as long as the tests are performed by approved specialists or veterinarians.
The results will be public and available in the cat’s pedigree in the breed’s register.

Sadly, there’s no cure for HCM, but there are treatments.

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