HCM - Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy & Scanning

HCM is a disease in which a portion of the myocardium (the heart muscle) is hypertrophic (enlarged) without any obvious cause, creating functional impairment of the heart.

Caring & thoughtful breeders have their cats heart scanned annually & commit to never breed from a cat that has been diagnosed with HCM & furthermore, will follow protocols in their breeding programs if a closely related cat is diagnosed with the disease.

HCM is thought to be genetic in its nature & is known to be more prevalent in certain breeds. Unfortunately, however, at present, the gene(s) responsible are largely unidentified. Additionally, due to lack of funding for research & the high cost of genetic testing, it is highly unlikely that causation gene(s) will be discovered in the near future.

HCM is also very common & widespread in moggy cross-breed cats whos pregnancies are for the most part indiscriminate in nature. These cats will not have undergone annual heart health screening as pedigreed cats do with HCM diagnosed usually during examinations for presenting symptoms associated with the disease. 

Genetic testing & research is currently carried out in specific breeds only & has only become possible after the genes responsible were identified due to common genes identified during HCM research in human beings

HCM scanning must be performed by a properly qualified & skilled cardiologist who will be looking at the heart using ultrasound examining it & taking detailed measurements. Despite all this skill & care, it must also be recognised that  HCM screening is not a fail-safe as you will see from example scenarios below, it is a valuable tool in attempting to eradicate the disease in the breed. 

  1. A breeding cat who has scanned negatively for several years & therefore remained in a breeding program might in later-life be scanned postitive &/or begin showing symptoms of having the disease. Over the years he or she will have parented several litters,  some individuals of which may themselves have already gone on to become breeding cats themselves.  
  2.  Two parents, both of whom have a strong family history of parents & grandparents etc. being HCM produce a litted in which a kitten has or goes on to have HCM. The cause of this is thought to me a a genetic mutation.

For more in-depth information about HCM & HCM screening including scanning clinics up & down the UK, please visit Hairless Hearts UK