The utility of ambulatory electrocardiography (AECG) to evaluate cats with subclinical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) for arrhythmias and heart rate variability (HRV) is not well defined but may provide information regarding risk stratification. This prospective study used AECG to evaluate ectopy and HRV in subclinical HCM cats compared to healthy controls and is the first to implement a pharmacologic cardiac stress test. Twenty-three purpose-bred, Maine coon cross cats (16 HCM, 7 control) underwent 48-h of continuous AECG. Terbutaline (0.2–0.3 mg/kg) was administered orally at 24 and 36 h. Heart rate, ectopy frequency and complexity and HRV parameters, including standard deviation of normal R-R intervals (SDNN), were compared pre-terbutaline and post-terbutaline and across phenotype, genotype and sex. Genotype for an HCM-causative mutation was significantly associated with the frequency of supraventricular (P = 0.033) and ventricular (P = 0.026) ectopy across all cats. Seven HCM cats and zero healthy cats had a sinus arrhythmia. Mean heart rate was significantly higher post-terbutaline (p < 0.0001). HCM cats had significantly greater HRV compared to controls (SDNN: p = 0.0006). Male cats had significantly higher HRV (SDNN: p = 0.0001) and lower mean heart rates (p = 0.0001). HRV decreased post-terbutaline (SDNN: p = 0.0008) and changes in HRV observed between sexes were attenuated by terbutaline.
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