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News Article

Study evaluates prognostic factors in dogs with mitral valve disease

Cardiac biomarkers and key clinical findings have been identified that can help veterinary practitioners identify dogs with degenerative mitral valve disease that are at highest risk of death.

Degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD) is a common form of cardiac disease in dogs, especially in small breed dogs such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The disease has been explored by specialists and prognostic indicators have been identified. However, until now, the value of these measurements has not been determined in the wider primary care setting.

A study by researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) prospectively followed dogs with presumptive DMVD attending primary care practices in the United Kingdom to evaluate the prognostic value of key clinical and biochemical measurements in this setting. The study is described in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Heart murmurs (abnormal heart sounds) consistent with DMVD are frequently found in dogs presented to primary care veterinary practices. The clinical progression of DMDV varies among individual dogs, with only a proportion of them experiencing clinical signs or dying as a result of their cardiac disease. Cardiac biomarker blood tests, which evaluate heart function, and data derived from history taking and physical examination findings have shown promise as predictors of disease outcome. The RVC study applied this to the primary-care setting, measuring the biomarkers N-terminal pro B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) and cardiac troponin I (cTnI) at presentation, as well as utilising the history and physical examination findings.

The study recruited 893 dogs with a presumptive diagnosis of DMVD from 79 primary-care veterinary practices in the UK; some of the practices were taking part in the Veterinary Companion Animal Surveillance System (VetCompass™) programme.

The key findings include:

  • Dogs with higher NT-proBNP and cTnI concentrations, higher heart rates, older dogs, females, and those reported to be exercise intolerant, dyspneic, and diagnosed with selected comorbidities had an increased hazard of death due to any cause.
  • Dogs with higher concentrations of plasma biomarkers, higher heart rates, and heart murmur intensities, those with exercise intolerance and those receiving potent diuretics had a higher hazard of cardiac-related death.


Prof Adrian Boswood, Professor of veterinary cardiology and lead cardiologist on the project said: “This study demonstrates the value of readily available clinical information, in combination with biomarker concentrations, for the identification of dogs at higher risk of succumbing to their cardiac disease. Of particular interest is the finding that biomarker concentrations should not be interpreted in isolation when making decisions about individual patients – rather the whole clinical picture should be considered including factors from the history and physical examination.”

Read article: Prognostic factors in dogs with presumed degenerative mitral valve disease attending primary‐care veterinary practices in the United Kingdom by M. J. Mattin, A. Boswood, D. B. Church and D. C. Brodbelt published in Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, online 24 October 2018, doi: 10.1111/jvim.15251

Article details

  • Date
  • 06 November 2018
  • Source
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals