The effect of treatment with pimobendan in dogs with preclinical mitral valve disease : a placebo-controlled double-blinded crossover study
Pimobendan is a widely used medication for the treatment of dogs with congestive heart failure (CHF) and preclinical degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD) with cardiomegaly. The benefit of a treatment in dogs with preclinical DMVD but without cardiomegaly has not yet been elucidated. Some positive effects concerning life quality and a decrease in cardiac biomarkers could be verified. This study aimed to further investigate these results using a placebo-controlled double-blinded crossover design. Out of a total of 15 dogs, eight were allocated to sequence-group AB, in which dogs received pimobendan (A) during the first treatment period and placebo (B) during the second period. Accordingly, sequence-group BA was treated first with placebo followed by pimobendan. Each treatment period lasted six months and included a baseline investigation and follow-ups after 90 and 180 days. The investigations included a questionnaire completed by the owners, echocardiographic examination, and measurements of NT-proBNP, cTnI and lactate before and after a standardised submaximal exercise test.
NT-proBNP values decreased significantly during the treatment period with pimobendan, and the post-exercise increase was attenuated at day 180. No significant treatment effects could be verified for cTnI and lactate, neither pre- nor post-exercise. Left ventricular size decreased under treatment, whereas no significant changes in left atrial size were detected. The owners described their dogs under treatment with pimobendan as being more active at day 90 (11/15) and day 180 (12/15). Those animals treated with placebo were described as being more active at day 90 (2/15) and day 180 (5/15).
Pimobendan had reducing effects on the concentrations of pre- and post-exercise cardiac biomarkers and the size of the left ventricle in dogs with DMVD ACVIM B1. Exercise testing in addition to an assessment of cardiac biomarkers might improve the decision when to initiate pimobendan treatment in dogs with DMVD.