Degenerative Valve Disease
Within the heart, there are four one-way valves that ensure that blood flows in a forward direction to supply oxygen nutrients to the body. Time and genetic factors may cause these valves to degenerate. As the valves degenerate, the one-way valve begins to leak. The leaking of blood causes a splashing sound, heard as a murmur when your veterinarian listens to your pet’s heart. Some pets with valvular degeneration may show no overt signs of a problem; the murmur may be found incidentally during your pet’s wellness examination. Some pets may develop heart failure over time as the valves continue to degenerate. Symptoms of heart disease include: cough, exercise intolerance, collapse, and lethargy. Diagnosis of degenerative valve disease requires a physical examination and imaging studies (e.g.: chest x-rays, electrocardiogram, and heart ultrasound). Treatment for degenerative valve disease depends on the severity of the condition; the primary goal is to minimize the workload on the heart.