How to check the heart rate using a stethoscope?

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Anonymous:
Because my cat gets too stressed at the vets I'm buying a stethoscope today to do some home monitoring.
Where is the best place to listen for the heart beat or will this be rather apparent when I get the stethoscope?
-mhd
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kaeli:
[nq:1]Because my cat gets too stressed at the vets I'm buying a stethoscope today to do some home monitoring. Where is the best place to listen for the heart beat or will this be rather apparent when I get the stethoscope?[/nq]
AFAIK: Underneath the left armpit, towards the chest, close to the chest wall / ribcage.

~kaeli~
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Phil P:
[nq:1]Because my cat gets too stressed at the vets I'm buying a stethoscope today to do some home monitoring. Where is the best place to listen for the heart beat or will this be rather apparent when I get the stethoscope?[/nq]
Probably the left apex in the mitral region first - then inch your way to the left base. Whichever way you go, develop a routine and stick to it - If you follow a routine, you'll get good at auscultation and you won't skip important areas. Auscultation is one of those things that if you learn correctly right from the start, it gets easier and you get better and better. Cats' hearts aren't as easy as dogs' or humans' hearts to ausculate because they vibrate much faster and at higher frequencies.

If you'll be using the steth only on your cat, get a pediatric* or *infant stethoscope (1/2" - 3/4" diaphram) - not an adult stethoscope. If you use an adult steth on a cat, it will be very difficult if not impossible to localize heart sounds because the diaphram and bell are too large - and cover almost the entire heart. With a smaller diaphram, you can auscult different regions of the heart and pinpoint the area from where the sound originates.
Another tip: Make sure the cat is sitting or standing and not lying on her side during auscultation. Lying on her side, the heart rubs against the chest wall and sounds like a nasty gushing murmur! Also, don't follow bell/diaphram rules for dogs - they don't always apply to cats. Cat hearts are smaller and vibrate at a higher frequency than dogs' hearts. So contrary to the "rule" that the HCM gallop is best heard with the bell, its actually heard better and clearer in cats with the diaphram.

If you're really serious about learning auscultation and have a few extra bucks to invest in an excellent* stethoscope, I highly recommend the electronic Littman 9000. It amplifies 18x, *records auscultations and evens sends the recording to your computor via infrared so you can have a permanent record or to email to your vet! How's that! The 9000 is only available in the adult size but the amplification feature makes it easy to localize heart sounds.
Good luck.
Phil
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Anonymous:
[nq:2]Where is the best place to listen for the heart beat or will this be rather apparent when I get the stethoscope?[/nq]
[nq:1]Probably the left apex in the mitral region first - then inch your way to the left base. Whichever way ... hearts aren't as easy as dogs' or humans' hearts to ausculate because they vibrate much faster and at higher frequencies.[/nq]
Hi Phil,
Thanks for the very informative lesson but for know I just need to know the approx heart rate because Zak's heart races at the vets.

This is all part of the hypothyroid problem that was discussed in Dec which we were going to rush into the radio iodine treatment.

These are his numbers
Dec 11
T4 118
Urea 7.6
Creatinine 110
Pulse ~240 (very stressed at the time)
After listening to your and others opinion that he needs to go on Tapazole for a trial period before radio iodine to monitor the kidneys that's what we did. Starting Dec 21 we put him on 5mg a day half a tablet morning and evening.
Jan 8 follow up test
T4 15.9
Urea 10.7
Creatinine 126
Pulse ~240
We then backed off to about 3.5 mg of Tapazole because the good T4 results happened rather quickly.
Today he went back for another blood series and I will have the results tomorrow. His weight slipped a few ounces to 11 lbs 14 oz. Pulse ~240
Overall we are very happy with the renal numbers for a 14 year old cat but I am going to do the heart rate check at home. I had already bought the stethoscope before reading your reply but I got a dual head one with the small diaphragm on one side. As soon as he comes out of his post vet hiding I'm going to check his heart rate.

-mhd
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Anonymous:
[nq:2]Where is the best place to listen for the heart beat or will this be rather apparent when I get the stethoscope?[/nq]
[nq:1]AFAIK: Underneath the left armpit, towards the chest, close to the chest wall / ribcage.[/nq]
Using my other cat for a quick test I found it across the chest from armpit to armpit. The real patient is currently hiding because he got back from the vet and is acting quite ***. The purring is quite something to hear though :-)
-mhd
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Cheryl:
wrote in on 23 Jan 2004:
[nq:1]Using my other cat for a quick test I found it across the chest from armpit to armpit. The real patient is currently hiding because he got back from the vet and is acting quite ***. The purring is quite something to hear though :-)[/nq]LOL I hear that a lot from Shadow's vet. He's so used to vet visits from his ordeal with HL that when he's on the exam table and just being touched by a vet he knows, and me right there with him, he purrs so loud they can't hear his heart beat. He doesn't have a meow at all, but his purrs can be heard across the room with just a naked ear. Emotion: smile BTW, Shamrock is getting to be the same way at the vet.

He has had so many visits due to his allergies that it doesn't faze him much, except the waiting in the carrier in the waiting room, and the car ride to the vet. Coming home, he is the same as Shadow, and he's quiet in the car. Just happy to be home and running to the kitchen looking for food.

Cheryl
Trapped like rats. In a chia-pet.
MIB II
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Anonymous:
[nq:1]Today he went back for another blood series and I will have the results tomorrow. His weight slipped a few ounces to 11 lbs 14 oz. Pulse ~240[/nq]
I just want to clarify that Zak initially gained 3/4 lb during the first 2 weeks of Tapazole, but then lost about 3 oz after the Tapazole reduction. That could even be attributable to the difference between a full and empty bladder.
-mhd
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Phil P:
[nq:2]Probably the left apex in the mitral region first - ... toausculate because they vibrate much faster and at higher frequencies.[/nq]
[nq:1]Hi Phil, Thanks for the very informative lesson but for know I just need to know the approx heart rate because Zak's heart races at the vets.[/nq]
Oops! I had to cut my New Year vacation in the Orient short because of the danger
of the extremely cold weather over here to the feral colonies in one of the industrial parks... My brain hasn't fully adapted to the 100* drop in tempreature... I thought by asking "Where is the best place to listen for the heart
beat", you wanted to know where is the best place to listen for the heart beat, not the heart rate.. Mia culpa...Emotion: wink
My kids still can't conceive the thought of people functioning in 5F*! *** is cold and 50F* is frigid to them!
Anyway, a heart rate between 140-220 - is considered "normal". An older cat's HR should be in the lower end of the range. Did you get a pediatric or infant steth?
[nq:1]This is all part of the hypothyroid problem that was discussed in Dec which we were going to rush into ... needs to go on Tapazole for a trial period before radio iodine to monitor the kidneys that's what we did.[/nq]
That's the smart play.
Check your numbers - include the units of measurements along with the lab's reference range.
I'll get back to you later.
Best of luck.
Phil
Starting Dec 21 we put him on 5mg a day half a
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