Scientists have made a major breakthrough in the management of myxomatous mitral valve disease (MVD), which has the potential to extend the lives of dogs throughout the world.
The “Evaluating pimobendan in cardiomegaly” (EPIC) study sought to prove oral administration of the drug pimobendan in dogs with evidence of increased heart size secondary to MVD can delay the onset of clinical signs of congestive heart failure.
Results, published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, showed pimobendan extended the asymptomatic period by an average of 15 months, while dogs that received the drug also lived significantly longer than those receiving a placebo.
Evidence was so conclusive, the study – involving 36 trial centres in 11 countries across 4 continents – was terminated early following an interim analysis, as it was deemed unethical to continue to withhold treatment from the placebo group.
No more ‘watch and wait’
Adrian Boswood, professor of veterinary cardiology at the RVC, led the research. He said: “Thanks to the EPIC study results, vets no longer have to adopt a ‘watch and wait’ approach to suspected preclinical cases of MVD.
“When a typical mitral valve murmur is detected, vets should now investigate further to look for cardiac enlargement. If demonstrated, this suggests the patient will probably benefit from treatment with pimobendan before the onset of clinical signs.
“It’s great that, as a trusted treatment, pimobendan has a wealth of safety data behind it in addition to that gleaned from the EPIC study, which can help support vets when prescribing it in this new way.”
- Read more on the study, and Prof Boswood’s thoughts, in the 10 October issue of Veterinary Times.