Both paroxysmal high-grade second-degree and persistent third-degree atrioventricular block (AVB) are recognised in cats. Our aim was to document the presentation, echocardiographic data, comorbidities and outcome in affected cats from a single referral hospital, including those that underwent epicardial pacemaker implantation (EPI).
This retrospective study included 64 cats diagnosed with persistent third-degree or paroxysmal high-grade AVB, for which detailed patient history was available. Non-parametric testing, Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox proportional hazard testing were performed.
Atrioventricular block was persistent in 43 cats (67%) and paroxysmal in 21 (33%). Forty-seven cats (74%) were referred for cardiac complaints (e.g. collapse, arrhythmia, tachypnea), 6 (9%) had non-specific complaints and AVB was an incidental finding in 11 cats (17%). Median duration of clinical signs prior to presentation was 21 days (1-1138 days). Thirty-nine (63%) cats had echocardiographic abnormalities; 13 (20%) presented with congestive heart failure. Forty-five (70%) cats had one or more comorbidities. Fifteen cats underwent EPI with immediate resolution of signs in 12 cats. Following EPI, two and four cats experienced major and minor complications, respectively. Forty-seven cats died; median survival time was 799 days (all-cause mortality). Cardiac-related death occurred in 17 cats (36%); median survival in these cats was 132 days. Heart failure on presentation was the only independent risk factor for cardiac death (p=0.002).
Outcome in cats with AVB was variable, although most had good medium- to long-term survival. Cardiac death occurred in a minority of cats. Pacemaker implantation was effective in relieving clinical signs.

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