Oliver was diagnosed with heart disease stage Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) in January 2016. At this time he had reoccurring bad fits of bronchitis due to water being pressed into his lungs by the high blood pressure following his enlarged heart. He would go into coughing fits lasting for several minutes. Based on advise from his regular vet and a heart specialist, and based on a TON of my own research, I started his treatment with the following
- Air quality
- Toilet quality
What I would like to tell you about today is no 4.
The two stages of Heart problems
The heart-vet explained to me that HCM is a bad circle of a heart problem. Blood circulation is not good, so the extremities scream for more oxygen, and the heart works harder and becomes bigger and more stiff and blood pressure goes up, but the extremities are still not getting what they need. What kills most cats with HCM is either a blood clot forming and being released from the heart, or their lungs filling with water due to high blood pressure. Sounds horrible right? It can take years or it can take months. At a certain point the heart disease will be renamed heart failure, which means the heart is so sick that it is mostly a matter of making life comfortable. Now please do not misunderstand, this does not mean that your cat is suffering to such an extent that you have to put him down. That is of course very individual. But the problem is that the failure stage of this disease it not well researched with vets, and although humans have great success with medicines, there are no cat specific medicines available. The get human medicines. They can slow, but not improve the problem.
Oliver was diagnosed with heart disease, so medicines were not needed yet. she said he was a few mm in heart thickness away from being diagnosed as heart failure. The vet prescribed him Azodyl as a supplement. Azodyl is most commonly known as supplement for cats with kidney problems. It cleans the blood. In Oliver it worked by increasing oxygen in his blood flow, meaning more oxygen to the extremities with less strain on the heart. The vet also recommended me to read about Hawthorn, see our post Hawthorn for heart disease in cats.
Within a few short weeks I could see clear changes. The pads on his paws used to always be cold, now they were nice and warm. And to this day he has never made another heart-related cough.
His vet wanted him back every six months, and at his first x-ray since staring the supplements…she was shocked. His heart was nearly back to normal size! She and I both said that our hope was that the supplements would halt the disease. But none of us had dared to hope that he would improve. The vet called all her coworkers, and they are now all recommending these supplements to their heart patients.
This January, 2018. 2 years since the diagnosis. His latest ultrasound shows that his heart is a little bit thicker than a normal heart. But otherwise shows no sign of problems. His heart rate, blood pressure and breathing are all within normal range.
My little miracle boy!
I do of course know, that this is not a guarantee for the health and heart improvement of all cats with HCM. But for a cat how was expected to die before he was two years old, it now looks like he can live for many good years. So knowing what I know now, it has been so worth it! And it is clear that Oliver also feels better, because since we first started on the supplements, he comes to get his pills every morning and evening. His heart is still sick, he is not cured. But now he can hopefully live a long life of good quality.