Pinniped hearts have been well described via dissection, but in vivo measurements of cardiac structure, function, and electrophysiology are lacking. Electrocardiograms (ECGs) were recorded under anesthesia from eight Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus), five northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus), and one walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) to investigate cardiac electrophysiology in pinnipeds. In addition, echocardiograms were performed on all eight anesthetized Steller sea lions to evaluate in vivo cardiac structure and function. Measured and calculated ECG parameters included P-wave, PQ, QRS, and QT interval durations, P-, R-, and T-wave amplitudes, P- and T-wave polarities, and the mean electrical axis (MEA). Measured and calculated echocardiographic parameters included left ventricular internal diameter, interventricular septum thickness, and left ventricular posterior wall thickness in systole and diastole (using M-mode), left atrium and aortic root dimensions (using 2D), and maximum aortic and pulmonary flow velocities (using pulsed-wave spectral Doppler). ECG measurements were similar to those reported for other pinniped species, but there was considerable variation in the MEAs of Steller sea lions and northern fur seals. Echocardiographic measurements were similar to those reported for southern sea lions (Otaria flavenscens), including five out of eight Steller sea lions having a left atrial to aortic root ratio <1, which may indicate that they have an enlarged aortic root compared to awake terrestrial mammals. Isoflurane anesthesia likely affected some of the measurements as evidenced by the reduced fractional shortening found in Steller sea lions compared to awake terrestrial mammals. The values reported are useful reference points for assessing cardiac health in pinnipeds under human care.
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