Animal Medical Center Participates in Groundbreaking Cardiology Study

October 26, 2016

Contact Information:
Barbara Ross, Ross Public Relations,, 201-236-1771

Animal Medical Center’s (AMC) Cardiology Service, along with an international group of cardiologists across 11 countries, participated in a five-year groundbreaking double-blinded study designed to assess the potential benefit of the drug, pimobendan in asymptomatic dogs with advanced degenerative mitral valve disease (MVD). This disease is the most common cardiac condition affecting small breed dogs aged 10+ years. Results of the EPIC (Evaluation of Pimobendan in Cardiomegaly) study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (1) reported that pimobendan (Vetmedin®) given to dogs with severe mitral valve leakage delayed the onset of congestive heart failure by an average of 15 months compared with placebo treated dogs.

By the time a small breed dog reaches roughly 10 years of age, it typically suffers from some degree of MVD. “In many cases, this will not interfere with health, while others will develop heart failure and suffer a premature death,” said Philip Fox, DVM, MS, DACVIM/ECVIM (Cardiology), DACVECC, head of Animal Medical Center’s Cardiology Service and Director of the Caspary Research Institute and Education Outreach. Until now, medical options have been limited and controversial. Some cardiologists have advocated for a ‘wait and watch’ strategy – monitor breathing for signs of heart failure, and then treat when symptoms present. Others choose to add an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor drug, but the benefit of this medication is modest, and some question its value.

“The results from the breakthrough EPIC study should change how clinicians diagnose and ultimately manage MVD,” said Dr. Fox. Because these findings demonstrate that pimobendan administered to asymptomatic but advanced cases of MVD helps to delay onset of heart failure, this evidence supports the need to screen dogs with heart murmurs earlier before breathing difficulty develops. Patient assessment can be effectively made using medical history and physical examination, along with the added benefit of either chest radiography and/or echocardiography. Dogs showing evidence of severe left atrial dilation caused by advanced mitral valve disease may be considered as viable candidates to receive this therapy, which is intended to extend the asymptomatic period, followed up by long term medical monitoring.

“This type of large scale, multicenter study is exactly what we need more of in veterinary medicine,” said AMC Chief Medical Officer, Richard Goldstein, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM), DECVIM-CA. “At the Animal Medical Center, we are dedicated to continuing the standards that we have set for the study of naturally occurring disease in companion animals. Our cardiologists and clinical trials team were able to utilize AMC’s phenomenal caseload and clinical research infrastructure to spearhead a study that will help change the lives of so many dogs and their families – the kind of work that is the cornerstone of our mission.”

AMC cardiologists are available seven days/week to help you assess whether your patients may benefit from this therapy, and to help plan effective follow up and cardiac monitoring. For more about AMC’s Cardiology Service, visit

About Animal Medical Center
The Animal Medical Center is a not-for-profit veterinary center that has been a national leader in animal health care since 1910. As an academic veterinary hospital, The Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Hospital of the AMC promotes the health and well-being of companion animals through advanced treatment, research and education. The AMC staff is comprised of nearly 100 veterinarians who utilize an interdisciplinary team approach combining expertise across 17 specialty areas to care for pets 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information, visit

  1. J Vet Intern Med. 2016 Sep 28. doi: 10.1111/jvim.14586. {Epub ahead of print}

View/Download this Press Release as a PDF