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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

Features February 2018 Issue

Curing, Rather than Simply Treating,  Heart Disease

Tufts veterinary cardiologist Dr. John Rush with one of his three dogs, corgi Penny. She was born with a congenital heart defect (not a faulty heart valve) that was repaired with surgery at Tufts.

Curing, Rather than Simply Treating, Heart Disease

The push is on to fix dogs' faulty heart valves instead of just managing their illness until they die from congestive heart failure. Veterinary cardiologists have already begun

Say “heart disease” when referring to people, and you’re usually talking about narrowed arteries that impede blood flow to the heart muscle, which increases the chances for a heart attack. Say “heart disease” when referring to dogs, and you’re usually talking about a faulty valve between heart chambers that keeps blood from flowing forward, as it’s supposed to. Instead, the heart enlarges from pumping harder than it should have to, and fluid eventually backs up into the lungs. That’s congestive heart failure, and it means the dog keeps gasping for air until he finally reaches a point that he can no longer breathe.

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