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Comp Med. 2006 Dec;56(6):512-8.

Electrocardiogram abnormalities in captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).

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  • 1Alamogordo Primate Facility, Holloman Air Force Base, Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA.


Although cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the captive chimpanzee population, little is known about the prevalence and etiology of heart disease in this species. We reviewed the physical exam records of 265 common chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) for electrocardiogram abnormalities. During the 24-mo period reviewed (August 2003 through August 2005), 34 animals were diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmias consisting of ventricular arrhythmias, supraventricular arrhythmias, conduction disturbances, mixed arrhythmias, and bradycardia. The incidence of cardiac arrhythmia was significantly higher in male animals, chimpanzees 20 to 39 y old, and those with structural heart disease. Incidence of cardiac arrhythmia was not significantly higher in animals with hypertension, hyperlipidemia, or chronic viral infections. During the retrospective period, 7 animals with cardiac arrhythmias died or were euthanized. Mortality was significantly higher in animals with ventricular arrhythmias compared with those without ventricular arrhythmias. We conclude that in the common chimpanzee, age, male gender, and structural heart disease are risk factors for developing cardiac arrhythmias and that ventricular arrhythmias are risk factors for mortality.

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