Elmo was a stray that found his way into a rural Alabama shelter. Heartworm negative (thankfully), Elmo nonetheless was determined by the shelter's vets to have a grade IV heart murmur, due to a severe cardiac condition called "pulmonary stenosis." In this situation, the valve in Elmo's heart that led to the pulmonary artery was so constricted that the right side of the heart had become enlarged and the pressure through the valve was roughly 3-4 times what it should be. Elmo was seen by veterinary cardiac team at Texas A&M Medical Teaching Hospital, where they have a specialization the surgical treatment for pulmonary stenosis, "balloon valvoplasty." Without this surgery, Elmo would not live more than 3-5 years due to the overload on his heart.
Elmo was scheduled for surgery and while the valve itself opened up nicely, it was discovered that the extremely elevated pressures through the valve had led to a deterioration of the pulmonary artery on the other side of the valve. Much as a surface can be damaged by power washing, the pressure being forced onto the wall of the artery had led to the wall becoming weakened. Elmo returned for a routine checkup and while that damage to the artery had partially healed, he would not be completely cured it seemed. His pressures were down to just a point or two over normal, however, and his activity level was markedly better than before surgery. Given the unknowable consequences of the artery damage, Elmo will remain in our care for the rest of his life and stay with his foster close to Texas A&M for annual follow ups and care.