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J Med Primatol. 2009 Feb;38(1):51-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0684.2008.00307.x. Epub 2008 Jul 30.

Spontaneous heart disease in the adult chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes).

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  • 1College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA.



A high incidence of heart disease, especially idiopathic cardiomyopathy (IC), is seen in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).


We reviewed clinical records and necropsy reports of 87 adult chimpanzees for possible causes of heart disease/IC. We examined age, sex, cause of death, weight, diet, environment, infectious diseases, experimental uses and clinical pathology.


The overall prevalence of heart disease in chimpanzees was 67.81%; the prevalence of IC was 51.72%. The prevalence of IC was significantly higher in males (60.32%) than that in females (29.17%, P = 0.009). The prevalence of other heart disease was higher in females (25%) than that in males (12.70%, P = 0.165). Heart failure occurred in 47.13% of chimpanzees. Heart disease was the primary cause of death in 34.49% of chimpanzees; 29.88% died of unknown causes.


We found no evidence that diet, environment, viral agents, experimental use or disease exposure contributed to the deaths resulting from IC in chimpanzees.

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