IWF Plans Closer Followup of Hounds with Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm found in about 12% of all hounds.

The incidence increases with age and by age 7 30% of IWs tested are in atrial fibrillation. Some hounds tolerate this arrhythmia well for years but cardiac efficiency is reduced. Afib is the first sign of cardiomyopathy in nearly all IWs with heart disease. Afib and cardiomyopathy respond to treatment with meds that are well tolerated. Early diagnosis helps your hound. It is recommended that EVERY IW has a yearly EKG to screen for this arrhythmia. From past data in the lifetime cardiac study we learned about 50% of hounds with afib died of heart failure. Early occurrence of afib was more common in males but overall the incidence was the same in both sexes with average age of onset 5 years. Breeders now routinely screen both sire and dam with EKGs before breeding. There are continued advances in veterinary care.


Further Information Needed

The IWF plans closer follow up of all hounds identified with afib to validate data collected earlier and document changes in heart disease in our hounds.

The new data collection for hounds with atrial fibrillation will address:

1. Has the incidence of afib decreased with our efforts?

2. Has the age of onset changed?

3. Has survival with afib improved in the past 10 years?

4. Do approximately 50% of hounds with afib still die of something other than heart disease?

5. Does documented control of heart rate at home result in longer life and decreased incidence of death from cardiac problems?

6. Why are IWs euthanized for heart disease?

7. Previous data suggested heart rate at diagnosis of afib correlated with severity of heart disease..This needs to be verified as these hounds may need more aggressive therapy.

8. Are any specific meds associated with prolonged survival?

9. Are any diets or supplements associated with prolonged survival?

There is considerable data collected previously for comparison which puts us in a unique position for follow up comparisons.

Outline of Data Collection for IWs with Atrial Fibrillation

Any IW with Atrial Fibrillation is invited to help by participation in this study.

If your hound is found to have afib during screening tests at any IWF-sponsored venue you will be asked to participate and you will be contacted by the study within a few weeks of diagnosis.

This is not an interventional study.

Each hound will have medication and follow up per their own cardiologist.

Each hound will be asked to participate in the LCSII study so DNA and general follow up will be available for future use.

The IWF has hired an independent person with a nursing background to collect information from owners and put it in a data base. This is NOT an open data base and hounds are identified by a master list number.

Hounds may be asked to also provide blood to UC Davis for ongoing studies of afib in IWs.

Results Updated Yearly

A yearly report will be in Focus and on the website to provide owners with information. The ongoing data collection is planned initially for 5 years and a poster presentation anticipated at this time.

This will then be provided to veterinary cardiologists to assist in treatment.

What Is Asked of Participating Owners?

Owners will be asked to take their hound’s heart rate and record on a weekly basis (this should be done anyway as standard of care).

They will be contacted every 6 months for information on their hounds including medications, any symptoms or health problems, diet changes, and the heart rates.

Contact can be email if preferred and if no response telephone contact will be made.

Drs. Tyrrell and Rosenthal will be overseeing this data collection but all care and medications will be per each hound’s cardiologist.

If you agree to participate in this data collection the IWF will pay for the initial echocardiogram at the time of diagnosis for each hound.

All followup Echos at IWF sponsored venues will be at the reduced rate for afib hounds with a copy for your cardiologist.

A Huge Thank You

IW owners have shown their love and concern for their hounds with generous donations of time and money to help solve health problems. Because of this support there is considerable knowledge of heart disease in the Irish Wolfhound. You will be helping to advance this knowledge and assist cardiologists in treating future hounds by participating in this data collection.

We have learned heart disease is NOT the same in all breeds and cardiologists need breed specific data to provide the best treatment. Only you the concerned owner can provide this data. A HUGE thank you from all hounds for giving your time and energy.

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