Monday, March 15, 2010

Better Living through Chemistry

That was certainly a motto I repeated when I worked for a pharmaceutical company more than a decade ago..."better living through chemistry."

Since then I have probably joined a few skeptics in wondering sometimes about pharmaceutical drugs.  Frankly, if possible, I would rather find an alternative, if possible, than taking something.  That does not make me a proponent of homeopathics, which are not tested for efficacy at all.

But, I would rather find some way through diet or lifestyle change to manage things.  However, not everything falls neatly in place like that.

Take, for example, my dog Robbie.  Last June (2009) my vet did a series of tests on him for a full heart workup.  He had blood tests, chest x-rays, EKG and blood pressure tests.

The result?  Well, just about everything checked out with one noteable exception.  The exception was his chest x-ray.  It showed an enlarged heart.  His heart was taking about about 3 1/2 rib spaces on the x-ray where it should be about 2 1/2 rib spaces.

It means he has mild cardiomyopathy.  His heart muscle is compromised and is not working efficiently.

Since it is a mild form, Robbie's vet recommended visiting a cardiologist and getting a cardiac ultrasound to see what was going on.

We did that and the result was about a 5% degredation in the heart muscle contractions.  He also showed a slight regurgitation in both valves on a cycle of the blood through the heart.

The prognosis, in 2009, was that Robbie did not have severe enough heart disease to warrant heart medication but rather address it through dietary means.

So, since late June 2009, Robbie has been taking VetriScience Cardio Strength supplements to boost his taurine and carnitine levels.

The cardiologist also provided me with furosemide (brand name "Lasix") to use if I ever detected a cough from Robbie when he was agitated.

I was given all of 12 pills of furosemide and until last week, had about 8 of them left.

Robbie started to really have some coughing spells, mainly when I got home from work.

We went to visit his vet this past Saturday and updated his chest x-ray.

The new x-ray shows that his heart has enlarged a bit more (now almost 4 rib spaces) and has tilted a little.

We are due to visit the cardiologist again to update his ultrasound to see what is going on.

Again, nothing can still be detected as abnormal through listening with a stethoscope and his vet did emphasize that while his condition is worsening, it is not alarming.

Our next steps are to medicate Robbie with furosemide three days a week and see how that goes.

So, for now, it is better living through chemistry.  I pray to God that I can have my "Little Man" for a few years yet.  He is a very special part of my life.


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