Treatment of Canine Mitral Valve Disease Shows Promise

a woman in a black and white dress sits on the floor with a dalmation

Mitral valve disease accounts for approximately 75 percent of all canine heart disease, but a recently finished clinical trial shows that a potential treatment might help. The trial, titled “Evaluating Pimobendan In Cardiomegaly” (EPIC), is the largest clinical study ever to be conducted among dogs with myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD), the leading cause of heart disease and heart failure in dogs. It evaluated the effectiveness of pimobendan in delaying the onset of clinical signs of congestive heart failure in dogs with increased heart size secondary to pre-clinical MMVD.

A mid-study analysis in mid-February 2015 indicated that pimobendan is clearly beneficial and did not raise any concern over the administration of pimobendan. Based on these results the interim analysis committee recommended that the study be stopped and the lead investigators — Dr. Sonya Gordon, associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Science at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; Dr. Adrian Boswood at the Royal Veterinary College, Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK; and Dr. Jens Häggström of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Uppsala, Sweden — ended the study March 1.

“I am excited about the results of this groundbreaking study and proud to be a part of the EPIC team,” Gordon said. “The results of this clinical trial have the potential to change the way the most common cause of heart disease and heart failure in the dog is managed on a day-to-day basis by veterinarians around the world.”

The study was a prospective double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, international, multi-center clinical study — the so-called “gold standard” of clinical trials. Specialized veterinary cardiologists at 36 trial centers, half of which were in the United States, ran the trial. (The other 18 centers were in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.) The 360 canine patients enrolled in the trial were randomly allocated to either a pimobendan or a placebo treatment group, with 180 dogs in each group. Gordon and her colleagues at Texas A&M saw 16 of those dogs.

Full and final results of the study, which was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, are expected at a later date.

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Media contact: Megan Palsa, at mpalsa@cvm.tamu.edu or (979) 862-4216 or Angela G. Clendenin at aclendenin@cvm.tamu.edu or (979) 862-2675


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