Elmo’s Heart Saving Shock

Gorgeous 6 year old Elmo, a Cockerpoo, was rushed to our Emergency and Critical Care as he had a cardiac arrest caused by his heartbeat racing out of control. At one point, Elmo’s heartbeat had raced to an extraordinary 340bpm, caused by a very fast cardiac arrhythmia, which is life threatening if the heart cannot be returned to its normal rhythm.

Usually, medication can do the job but Elmo wasn’t responding, so our quick-thinking vets decided to anaesthetise Elmo and give him an electric shock to reset his heart and allow it to go back into a normal sinus cardiac rhythm. This rare and high-risk shock tactic saved his life.

Alice Le Gal, one of our Consultants in Emergency and Critical Care supported by Emergency and Critical Care Resident Katie Gane, said: “The longer Elmo was having an abnormal rhythm the more likely he was to have a cardiac arrest. We anaesthetised Elmo and gathered a large team for the procedure as there was a risk that Elmo’s heart could stop after the shock and he would require CPR, which we were ready to provide. Thankfully after the first shock was applied, Elmo’s heart went back into a much slower more normal rhythm, and he was woken up and continued on anti-arrhythmics in hospital for a few days.”

Elmo’s owner said: “It was a complete surprise when we first found out what was wrong with Elmo. He was a very happy, healthy and fit dog and the previous evening had been his normal happy self.”

Laurent Locquet, one of our Consultants in Cardiology said: “It is quite rare to have to shock a patient in ventricular tachycardia to go back into a sinus rhythm, we are often successful at managing them medically by administering anti-arrhythmic drugs. We suspect Elmo had myocarditis, an inflammation of his cardiac muscle, which caused his life-threatening heart rhythm disturbance. We performed an echocardiography of Elmo’s heart at the time and a few weeks after the event, and whilst the contractility was initially very poor, no remaining structural cardiac disease was found after successfully treating the heart rhythm disturbance. In Elmo’s case, the good outcome and resolution of his arrhythmia were a great achievement.”

Elmo’s owner finished by saying “Elmo is back to his happy, friendly self. Loving life, loving his toys and everyone. I can’t fault the vets or the nursing team. They looked after Elmo and were always calm and had time to talk things through with us. I’d recommend them to anyone.”