Heart conditions in dogs are common: about one in ten dogs are estimated to suffer heart disease in their lifetime. Among the most common is mitral valve disease – a condition where one of the valves inside the heart doesn’t work as well, leading to congestive heart failure and a reduced lifespan.

But recently, a study was done into mitral valve disease that has changed the way we can treat this disease. The EPIC study (Evaluation of Pimobendan In dogs with Cardiomegaly) was one of the largest cardiology studies ever done in veterinary history. Researchers wanted to answer a key question: Can a particular drug (pimobendan) delay the onset of congestive heart failure in dogs with mitral valve disease?

The study, which began in 2010 and ran through to 2015, included investigators at 36 study centres in 11 nations across 4 continents. Investigators were held to rigorous scientific standards, and an independent team compiled and reported the findings.

The results concluded that dogs who received pimobendan experienced a 15-month delay in onset of clinical signs of congestive heart failure, cardiac-related death, or euthanasia. This is a huge result for so many dogs with heart disease (one might even say it’s… epic).

And the best news is that with x-rays and an ultrasound of the heart, along with the guidelines from the results of this study, we are now able to determine which of our patients with mitral valve disease will benefit from medication and which can be placed on a monitoring program. This means we can help your pet live a longer and healthier life.

The EPIC study’s official website can be found HERE if you’d like to learn a little more.

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