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The inheritence of some diseases and defects

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy - HCM

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is the most common heart disease among cats. The disease, which also exists in humans, causes enlarged heart walls in the affected individual. The disease cannot be seen from birth, it evolves gradually. Some cats die from the disease as kittens, but the most common is that the cat is free of symptoms for many years. At an ultrasound most of the cases, but not all, be found at the age of three if the examining veterinarian has good equipment and is knowledgeable in the field, but an affected cat can in some cases live long with its disease. Often the cat has no symptoms until it suddenly dies of a serious arrhythmia, or by a blood clot often situated in the back legs. The cat can also develop heart insufficiency. Possible medical treatment is only meant to relieve the symptoms, it is not a cure.

The disease appears in Maine Coon and British Shorthair to be inherited mainly as a dominant gene. Other breeds have not been studied in regard to this, but there is reason to believe that the inheritance is similar. The development of the disease varies however between different breeds, hence one suspect that there might be several different mutations causing the disease within different families. This is also the case in humans.