View Full Version : Holly has a 2nd degree heart block

9th August 2011, 09:17 PM
I decided to start a new thread in hopes to get more information. I've been reading a little online and from how the vet described it I still feel in over my head in understanding. Perhaps I'm just that worn out that my brain is refusing to digest in new information.

Holly has a 2nd degree heart block & Pulmonary hypertension.

They are starting her on a test to see if they can increase her heart rate? I believe the medication they are testing is atropine.

The mitral valve leakage she has was VERY minimal and did not concern them at this time. Her lungs are clear.

On the upside... her ultrasound showed her stomach & intestines to be empty. NO blockages... and her pancreas to be "normal"

Can anyone provide any insight on this condition... in easy to understand terms. LOL

Thank you!

9th August 2011, 09:21 PM
Just have a minute, but here are some links. If it is bad enough and can't be controlled by meds, a pacemaker can be implanted. You definitely went to the right facility to deal with this!


Great site - scroll down to numbers 22 and 23 - scroll way down.



Did they say how the pulmonary hypertension is related? I've had two dogs with PH - medication used to treat is sildenafil (Viagra). Sydney is taking this for PH as a result of MVD. Holly hasn't had heartworm disease that you know about, has she? I've not heard of PH being the result of heart block so I'd like to understand how and if the two problems are related.

Very good that they can't find any GI problem - maybe that was just God's way of getting you to a good specialist!


Sydneys Mom
9th August 2011, 09:47 PM
Glad they were able to get a diagnosis and hopefully now they will be able to treat Holly and she will become your lively little girl again. I've never heard of 2nd degree heart block so have no advice there. As Pat mentioned in her post, Sydney does have Pulmonary hypertension and is taking Viagra to help control it. Just to note, Viagra is very expensive, however, speak with your cardiologist about it because there are some out of state vetinerary pharmacies that you could get it from and it will be at a fraction of the cost. Our cardio hooked us up with one in Arizona.

Have you seen Holly yet or is she still in the hospital? Will continue to keep you all in my thoughts.

9th August 2011, 10:04 PM
Joyce, I think I read she took Holly home last night, and was waiting for the results, maybe by phone?

Pat said:
Very good that they can't find any GI problem - maybe that was just God's way of getting you to a good specialist

Couldn't agree more with that statement. It's interesting because she had the vomiting, and I don't know anything about heart conditions in dogs, and to whether this will cause vomiting. I had a girlfriend whose mother was vomiting, thought she was getting the flu, collapsed, and when admitted to the hospital they said heart attack.

Glad that you at least are someplace where they know what to do. Hugs to you both, I know this had been tough.

9th August 2011, 10:12 PM
Sending Holly gentle hugs and healing thoughts :hug:

Sydneys Mom
9th August 2011, 10:15 PM
Joyce, I think I read she took Holly home last night, and was waiting for the results, maybe by phone?

:sl*p:You're right, there are too many things going on with all our babies it's hard to keep up, but I'm trying.

9th August 2011, 10:27 PM
Not sure if I can explain about heart block but here goes.
In people (I guess its the same with dogs) the impulses that make the heart beat come from the sinal atrial node, thats a part of the heart thats our "natrual" pacemaker. In heart block the electrical impulses dont get through the SA node properly and so the heart doesnt beat fast enough.
When you see it on an ECG reading the waving lines aren't normal.

Atropine stimulates the heart to beat faster. Although I think it's quite short acting. If this doesnt a pacemake can be fitted. In people its quite simple and is done as a daycase.

Not sure Ive explained this well enough. With medication or even a pacemaker Holly should improve. Fingers crossed she's feeling better.

Good Luck
Mel X

9th August 2011, 11:00 PM
Gosh, I don't know anything about a heart block, but I did just want to say that I was thinking of you and Holly. Poor little thing. I guess it is good that they are starting to find answers and narrow this down, but it is also so hard to get results that are not "perfect health". I just hope they can get her treatments that will help her asap. She has been through so much!!

You are in my continued thoughts. Give Holly a big snuggle from Brooklyn and I and I hope that this just continues to get clearer and clearer for you. :hug:

10th August 2011, 01:07 AM
Thank you everyone for your kind words :hug: We are finally home and done running around! Holly has settled in on the couch (her favorite place).
Thank you Pat & meljoy for the information. It helped a lot!

The diagnosis she has been given are the following:
Mobitz Type 2 Second Degree AV Block
Pulmonary Hypertension (asymptomatic at this time)
Mitral and tricuspid valve disease
Syncope most likely due to secondary heart block

Cardiac auscultation revealed an irregular rhythm along with a split S-1 sound and Grade 1-2 left systolic murmur

They did a atrophine test and her heart rate increased and she did not experience any heart block. Which is what we were hoping for! *YAY*

They have sent her home on Theophylline 50mg 2X daily. She has to go back next week to see if it is working.

She does not want to treat the hypertension yet as it is still asymptomatic. She does want to monitor it very closely because she said the increased heart rate could make it worse. She also said the increased heart rate could accelerate her mitral valve disease. She did not know if the heart block was related to any of her other heart conditions or not. She also said that it is unknown if the heart block is inherited or just caused by other factors. She was also unable to tell me if the heart block is something that can progress or if she can be maintained on medication. She also said that there is a slight chance she never had pancrititis but instead was suffering from drop in heart rate causing her to be dizzy and then to vomit. When my vet saw her last week she noted her heart rate was low during most of her stay there.

10th August 2011, 01:20 AM

Still at work after 12 hours and so far behind so this will be short.

You have found an EXCELLENT internist - everything she says makes perfect sense. I'm really glad that you have Holly insured. This is what makes me keep paying for insurance every month for Tucker and Lissie even though I have yet to make a claim. So great that you have this specialist nearby so you don't have to worry about frequent road trips - you need someone close at hand.

Be aware that a side effect of theophylline is restlessness and agitation, but hopefully that won't be a factor for Holly because of her slow heart rate.

Shannon - you did the right thing! And it sounds as if you picked one of the women - girl power!!


10th August 2011, 01:24 AM
Forgot to say - IMO, highly unlikely that the heart block is related to the mild degenerative valve disease. The only dogs I've known with this condition were not Cavaliers, and I do not believe that this is a breed problem.

I also am still unsure what the cause of the PH would be - PH is usually secondary to very advanced degenerative valve disease, heartworm disease, or lung disease such as pulmonary embolism. I'll have to do a bit of research to see if PH is associated with heart block, but I've never heard that it was.


10th August 2011, 01:47 AM
You have a lot of information to process during a very stressful time. Sounds like you have good person there to advise. Pat also is a great source of info to consider. Hang in there and know we are with you in spirit.

10th August 2011, 04:37 AM
Glad to hear that you have a start and a treatment plan. I have no experience in dogs, but pulmonary hypertension in humans tends rarle to have an associated cause, mostly idiopathic. As far as the heart block, same effect in humans, but first line treatment is pacemaker. I like the treatment plan,theophylline can cause the jitters like Pat said.

Hope she is feeling better. We are all thinking of her.

Love my Cavaliers
10th August 2011, 03:18 PM
When Oz was 5 months old he was diagnosed with a congenital Grade I heart murmur and an intermittent 2nd degree A-V heart block. He wore a holter monitor for 24 hours. He is totally asymptomatic for both conditions, they haven't changed since then, and he just sees his cardiologist once a year. He is on no meds. One vet in his general practice can hear his murmur (the one who sent us to the cardiologist in the first place) and the other one can't. The cardiologist actually said "kudos" to his vet for even hearing his murmur in the first place.

I'm sorry that Holly's heart block is causing her problems. But like Pat said, it sounds like you are at the right place to get her the help she needs.

What a rollercoaster ride you have been on for the past week or so!!! It's stressful enough to be dealing with Holly, but you also have to think about your two year old and then Flash and Blitz and all your other animals on your farm and getting them fed, and your car, and on and on......Wow Shannon. How are you holding up? Please take care of yourself too.

19th August 2011, 04:16 AM
So Holly had her 1st recheck after starting on the medication! We were SO worried because we were increasing her heart rate. We needed to increase her heart rate BUT by increasing her heart rate we were risking increasing all of her other heart issues. Well we were so lucky and had AMAZING Results! I'm actually speechless! The cardio team was equally speechless!

We had an ultrasound & ECG done today.

Her heart rate has increased from 60-70 bpm to 130 bpm. (Which is about where they wanted it to be!)
She no longer had an irregular heart beat.
The ultrasound showed NO mitral OR tricuspid valve regurgitation
NO pulmonary hypertension and NO murmur! She went from a grade 1-2 murmur to nothing.....

I'm so happy! I'm speechless!
The specialist said that the 2nd degree heart block was causing all of her other symptoms!!!

She is containing her daily medication and we have another recheck next month.


Sydneys Mom
19th August 2011, 05:11 AM
What wonderful news! I'm so happy for you and Holly. It's always so hard when our babies are sick and we have to make such hard medical decisions. Glad this one has a happy outcome. :rah:

Love my Cavaliers
19th August 2011, 04:12 PM
Amazing news!! You of all people deserve a break, especially after the way you rescued Holly and Blitz from a horrible life. That is just great to hear. Now you can relax a little and give a big sigh of relief and hope that the next month goes smoothly as well.

19th August 2011, 04:59 PM
OH MY GOSH! This is just the best news any pup owner could get! Awesome job to all involved including Holly's mom b*n*n* I'm so happy for Holly :jmp2:


19th August 2011, 08:10 PM
Such wonderful news!! Yea

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19th August 2011, 08:52 PM
Such fantastic news! I'm so happy for you.