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Cardiac disease in 1.9 month old African grey.. Unbelievable.

dollfish

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Hello everyone,

Astro had her routine check up this Tuesday and it turned out she has an enlarged heart. The heart score has gone from 55.8% to 59.7% since June 2020. My vet said she is on the verge of starting losing heart function. Astro has never been on a seed diet, I have put a whole lot of research into her chop mixes and she eats nicely. The pellets she has been weaned onto are local, but they are very similar to Harrison's in their make up. She gets Zu-preem like pellets for training treats, maybe 20 a day or sometimes fruit in place of this in limited quantities. She eats an egg a week. She flies around all day and is housed in a very large aviary so she gets decent exercise and she always has.

I cannot believe she has cardiac disease at such a young age. I guess I've gone wrong with the egg [which was recommended by my vet] or maybe her treats. Maybe its genetic. Anyway I feel devastated. Just wanted to share to let it out...

IMG-20210504-WA0005.jpg IMG-20210504-WA0006.jpg
 

dollfish

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For that age, I would strongly suspect genetics. I'm sorry :( I definitely would eliminate any animal fats and proteins (including eggs).
I wonder if it will continue to enlarge at this rate.. It is scary that she may only have a couple of years ahead of her if it continues to grow 4% every year. I'm so so sad.
 

sunnysmom

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I'm so sorry. I would say genetics too.

:sadhug2:
 

Sparkles99

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I'm very sorry. I would tend to agree with Mizzely that it's likely genetic as she's incredibly young for her species & has been really well cared for. However, you may want to ask the vet if there's any virus/ bacteria/ parasite/ something else that can cause this. I have had pets (rabbits, in my case) where something seemed genetic, but it was actually not. That may impact her prognosis.
 

dollfish

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I'm so sorry. I would say genetics too.

:sadhug2:
Isn't it.. We were planning for freeflight too. That has now become a dream. I am in disbelief. It is heartbreaking.

I'm very sorry. I would tend to agree with Mizzely that it's likely genetic as she's incredibly young for her species & has been really well cared for. However, you may want to ask the vet if there's any virus/ bacteria/ parasite/ something else that can cause this. I have had pets (rabbits, in my case) where something seemed genetic, but it was actually not. That may impact her prognosis.
Do you think so? She has had a CBC and she had had her fecals 6 months ago. She had a slight crop infection which she was treated for. Her bloodwork is clear. Do you think I should still ask if it can be that?
 

Sparkles99

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I would ask. I know next to nothing about avian medicine, but it's worth a polite inquiry.
I read this and thought of my late rabbit. Every major organ system, his intestines, blood volume & brain were affected by the time he was properly diagnosed. The culprit was a really rare rabbit intracellular-true-fungus-parasite (don't ask me how that's possible; I truly don't understand).

I don't want to give you false hope, but if Astro were mine, I'd simply ask if there's anything else that could have this for a side effect.
 

dollfish

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I would ask. I know next to nothing about avian medicine, but it's worth a polite inquiry.
I read this and thought of my late rabbit. Every major organ system, his intestines, blood volume & brain were affected by the time he was properly diagnosed. The culprit was a really rare rabbit intracellular-true-fungus-parasite (don't ask me how that's possible; I truly don't understand).

I don't want to give you false hope, but if Astro were mine, I'd simply ask if there's anything else that could have this for a side effect.
Thank you very much, I sure will! I will have messaged the vet for the third time though, I hope she isn't sick of me already. I'm very sorry for your rabbit, that must have been hard to deal with.
 

Hankmacaw

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As most of you know my Jasper was into full cardiac arrest at 6 1/2 years old (that was when she was given to me). When I took her to the Dr. 3months after I got her, because she was puffing up like a frog, she had cardiomyopathy and was near death from fluid accumulation stopping her heart. Dr. was not sure that she would live through the night. Her atrial chambers were significantly occluded and the left ventricle was greatly enlarged.

I had known Jasper since she was 14 weeks old and her diet was horrible cheese, bacon, fried eggs, ice cream, Fritos - you name it if it was bad for her she got it because her owners loved her and did not know better. There is no doubt in my mind that her cardiomyopathy was caused by her diet. She lived until she was 27 years old with lots of medical care, closely watching her diet, and as much exercise as her heart and health would tolerate. She had several times when we were sure she was going to die. not from heart disease nor the accompanying atherosclerosis, but from opportunistic disease like Aspergillosis and a multitude of bacterial infections due to her highly reduced immune system.

She finally died from Aspergillosis last September - her darned body just could not fight any longer.

There are numerous medications now for heart/circulatory disease in avians. Diet must be closely controlled and as much exercise as possible. I hope your vet will start medications quickly.

I'm so very sorry.
 

dollfish

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As most of you know my Jasper was into full cardiac arrest at 6 1/2 years old (that was when she was given to me). When I took her to the Dr. 3months after I got her, because she was puffing up like a frog, she had cardiomyopathy and was near death from fluid accumulation stopping her heart. Dr. was not sure that she would live through the night. Her atrial chambers were significantly occluded and the left ventricle was greatly enlarged.

I had known Jasper since she was 14 weeks old and her diet was horrible cheese, bacon, fried eggs, ice cream, Fritos - you name it if it was bad for her she got it because her owners loved her and did not know better. There is no doubt in my mind that her cardiomyopathy was caused by her diet. She lived until she was 27 years old with lots of medical care, closely watching her diet, and as much exercise as her heart and health would tolerate. She had several times when we were sure she was going to die. not from heart disease nor the accompanying atherosclerosis, but from opportunistic disease like Aspergillosis and a multitude of bacterial infections due to her highly reduced immune system.

She finally died from Aspergillosis last September - her darned body just could not fight any longer.

There are numerous medications now for heart/circulatory disease in avians. Diet must be closely controlled and as much exercise as possible. I hope your vet will start medications quickly.

I'm so very sorry.
Jasper was very lucky to have been in your care. I have read a lot about her. The vet didn't prescribe any medication, in fact she hardly said much. I wish that the measurements were somehow wrong. I'm debating seeing another vet, just to confirm. I just cannot wrap my head around this. I guess with this care if the heart enlarged so much in one year, there is not much long term hope. Do you know how much Jasper's heart changed over the years?
 

Hankmacaw

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Once Jasper was on medications and diet and exercise the size of her heart actually reduced in size and her circulation improved. It never enlarged to it's previous size and the wall of the left ventricle never strengthened, but it was not strong enough to pump sufficient blood. That is why the atherosclerosis started and progressed. To the point that she was not getting enough blood to her digestive system to digest her food. That is why I said that I hoped that your Dr. got right to it. The sooner medication and oversight start the better off your bird will be.

I forgot to say that daily oxygen therapy was an important part of Jasper's care. I'd see another vet for sure. Particularly since your current vet did not suggest any therapies.
 

dollfish

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Once Jasper was on medications and diet and exercise the size of her heart actually reduced in size and her circulation improved. It never enlarged to it's previous size and the wall of the left ventricle never strengthened, but it was not strong enough to pump sufficient blood. That is why the atherosclerosis started and progressed. To the point that she was not getting enough blood to her digestive system to digest her food. That is why I said that I hoped that your Dr. got right to it. The sooner medication and oversight start the better off your bird will be.

I forgot to say that daily oxygen therapy was an important part of Jasper's care. I'd see another vet for sure. Particularly since your current vet did not suggest any therapies.
The only thing the vet suggested was to get off the pellets and go on sugary pellets. [She didn't actually say this but all the brands she recommended were sugary.] So no thank you on that. I'll ask if she can suggest treatment. The vet is coming to this conclusion only by looking at radiographs. Is this sufficient for a diagnosis? Maybe she didn't position her quite right this time as they take radiographs without anesthesia. I don't know. She is a well-known avian vet but one side of me just cannot accept that this can be real. I choose to be skeptical, probably as a defence mechanism.
 

Hankmacaw

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Sugary pellets make no sense to me. Sugar (excess that not needed for immediate energy demands) metabolizes directly into fat molecules and fat is terrible for the heart and circulation and liver and pancreas. What pellet is she on now?

I really think this is an important enough diagnosis, that you aren't comfortable with, that you should see another vet OR ask you current Dr. to send the xrays to a specialist to review.

If the heart disease is advanced enough - yes it can and many times is diagnosed off of xrays. Jasper's xrays were so obvious it was like slapping you upside the face.

PS - Read as much as you can about heart/circulatory disease in birds, so you will understand more and have better questions to ask.
 

dollfish

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Sugary pellets make no sense to me. Sugar (excess that not needed for immediate energy demands) metabolizes directly into fat molecules and fat is terrible for the heart and circulation and liver and pancreas. What pellet is she on now?

I really think this is an important enough diagnosis, that you aren't comfortable with, that you should see another vet OR ask you current Dr. to send the xrays to a specialist to review.

If the heart disease is advanced enough - yes it can and many times is diagnosed off of xrays. Jasper's xrays were so obvious it was like slapping you upside the face.

PS - Read as much as you can about heart/circulatory disease in birds, so you will understand more and have better questions to ask.
She is on pellets very similar to Harrison's in composition with 8% fat content with no sugars. Thank you, I might have read all your comments on people's posts about heart disease and spent last night awake learning about how to measure the heart on radiographs hoping the vet had done it wrong. Silly me but I feel helpless. :(

She is just so so so young.
 

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Oh gosh that’s so sad :sadhug2:
 

Hankmacaw

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You are not helpless and now is the time you start to fight for your bird. I know you are in shock right now - as I was. But get busy and fight for what ever she has - Jasper lived for 21 more years after her diagnosis and the Dr.'s fear that she would die overnight.

There are numerous members whose birds are on heart medications and diuretics and supportive care.
 

dollfish

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You are not helpless and now is the time you start to fight for your bird. I know you are in shock right now - as I was. But get busy and fight for what ever she has - Jasper lived for 21 more years after her diagnosis and the Dr.'s fear that she would die overnight.

There are numerous members whose birds are on heart medications and diuretics and supportive care.
I will start a schedule of flying Astro twice a day in the basketball court or in the house. Also I have ordered Harrison's pellets despite their insane price here in Turkey. Let's see what happens after 6 months. I'm not going to take her to another vet straight away because I don't want to put her through the stress so soon after. I'll call this other vet and have her interpret the x-rays and then go to her after 6 months for the follow up. Poor baby Astro I hope she will live comfortably.

Oh and also I will ask about medications. Thankfully she loves the syringe.
 

dollfish

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Dear @Hankmacaw thank you so much for all your replies. I have one more question in mind that I want to ask you because I have read that you used Harrison's high potency and you are very kmowledgeable on the topic. The pellets Astro is eating are max 8% crude fat whereas Harrisons high potency is something like 15% min. Do you think I should switch over to Harrison's regardless? I've found a laboratory and I will actually have these pellets analysed for the fat content just to make sure. I am a bit of a freak like that.
 

Hankmacaw

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Exercise should be moderate (whatever that is), but that is what my vet told me. If she starts panting heavily or doesn't recover her breathing quickly (1 to 2 minutes) after flying, then reduce the amount of flying and work her back up. She should pant after flying, but not excessively so. If she acts like she doesn't want to fly - don't - she knows if she is feeling bad. You have to be very aware of her condition and how she feels.

I tis critical that you start medications immediately (if she truly does have cardiomyopathy) The medications, for the most part relax the walls of the circulatory system and allow the blood to flow more freely. Another test that she needs to have done is a blood pressure test. If she has high blood pressure she will need a slightly different medication - Sildenifil. Jasper didn't develop blood high blood pressure until 10-12 years into her treatment - but you never know. Heart disease has as many presentations as that d**** Aspergillosis.

Yes, Harrison's has 15% fat content (they do need some fat), but much of that is Good fat, not saturated fats. If you would like, you can contact the company and find out how much is saturated and how much unsaturated. I knew once years ago, but that has leaked out of my head. Maybe @Mizzely knows - she has done lots of research on pellets. You can give her an almost fat free diet outside of her pellets - that's what I did with Jasper - to the point that I had to supplement some fats with Olive Oil. My vet instructed me to do that.

This is a pretty technical article about heart disease in birds, but an excellent one.tDon't try to digest it all at once and go to the treatment section first.
DEFINE_ME

This is a very complete list of heart medications used in birds and what they do and don't do.

Jasper (throughout the 21 years was on the following)
Furosomide for the entire 21 years. A compromised heart does not allow the body to excrete all of the fluid it needs to so a diuretic is almost always needed - for Jasper it was critical that she have it every day.
Enalapril
Benazapril
Sildenafil
It all depends on the nature of the heart disease.

Many times (with Jasper especially) an NSAID is called for to control pain and to reduce inflammation. She was on Metacam for many years and then she was switched to Celexicob for the last five years.

Ask what you want and I will answer what I can.
 

Mizzely

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You can also contact Harrison's to see which they recommend. I had asked them why they advise high potency for birds with liver issues when they generally need a lower protein diet and it is higher. They were able to explain their reasoning and research.

I do not know their differences in fats, sorry!
 
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