Recently my cat was diagnosed with heart disease, my veterinarian warned me about the potential for blood clots. Should I be concerned?
Aortic thromboembolism (blood clot) is a serious condition that may occur in cats with heart disease. Often, there is no history of a heart murmur or heart disease prior to clot formation. Because the diseased heart muscle does not pump blood efficiently, clots can form and travel from the heart into the large blood vessel called the aorta blocking blood flow. Clots most often block the femoral arteries causing partial or complete paralysis of the hind legs. The feet are often cold to the touch and the pads may look grey or purple instead of pink due to loss of circulation. Cats with aortic clots are usually very painful and they may have
Prognosis for full recovery is guarded, and many cats die or are euthanized due to heart failure or failure to respond to therapy. If treated early, however, some cats do survive. Clot busting drugs like heparin, low dose aspirin and even plavix are often used to try to break up the clot. Heart medications like lasix and enalapril are also frequently given. Surgical removal of the clot at a veterinary referral center may also be an option.
In summary, aortic clot formation secondary to heart disease is a serious and often fatal disease in cats and there are frequently no warning signs. Early intervention with medication or surgery to remove the clot may reverse the paralysis, but lifelong treatment for heart disease is necessary.
Thomas Schaeberle, VMD