Clinical Connections  –  Autumn 2019

This year, researchers at the RVC’s Mitral Valve Clinic (MVC) were excited to recruit their 500th patient.

Whilst there are a number of diseases that affect the canine heart, degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD) is by far the most common. The MVC is a research clinic that has been collecting longitudinal data from a population of dogs with DMVD since 2004.

Earlier this year the clinic enrolled its 500th patient, Toby, a crossbreed dog who joined along with some of his siblings. Reaching this exciting milestone reflects the MVC’s commitment to researching this significant disease.

The observational data collected at the MVC acts as a valuable resource to scientists at the RVC and is unique in terms of its quality for a sample population of this size. By assessing hundreds of dogs at various points throughout the course of their disease, researchers can compare information from dogs at different disease stages and examine how certain parameters change within an individual as the disease progresses with time.

This has advanced our understanding of canine DMVD and formed the basis of multiple publications on this disease, including work on:

  • Echocardiographic monitoring of disease
  • The use of blood borne biomarkers in DMVD
  • Cardiac fibrosis and DMVD
  • Vagal tone in DMVD
  • The prognostic value of information gained from a patient’s clinical history and physical examination

The dogs seen at the clinic are enrolled on a voluntary basis and are examined by a diploma holding cardiologist with a special interest in DMVD. At each examination, dogs only undergo the diagnostic tests that are routinely used by veterinary cardiologists to monitor the disease. These include a physical examination, blood testing, urine testing, blood pressure monitoring, an electrocardiogram (ECG) and a cardiac ultrasound scan (echocardiography). All examinations are conducted without sedation or anaesthesia.

Professor Adrian Boswood, clinic nurse Nicola Lotter and Toby

In addition to contributing to research, the results of these diagnostic tests are beneficial as they provide the client and their pet’s primary veterinary surgeon with information about a patient’s general health and disease status, as well as prognostic and management advice specifically related to DMVD. As a result of this, many dogs have been provided with a gold standard level of care that they otherwise may not have been able to access. Patients are seen every six months at no cost to the client, which means that the disease can be monitored for the duration of a dog’s lifespan.

The clinic is always recruiting new clients (see Eligibility for Inclusion box); owners can refer themselves or can be referred by their primary care practice. The MVC is held in London every Thursday at the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in Camden or at the Blue Cross Animal Hospital in Victoria. To join the clinic or for further information, please contact the Mitral Valve Clinic office on 0207 468 5260 or by email at

The clinic’s team would like to thank the veterinary surgeons who have referred patients that have visited over the years, without whom this valuable research could not have been completed.

Eligibility for Inclusion:   

Any dog diagnosed with a heart murmur can be seen at the clinic if they are:

  • Seven years of age or older (five years of age or older for Cavalier King Charles spaniels)
  • 20 kg or less
  • Have no other significant health conditions

Some unaffected dogs are also seen at the clinic to act as a healthy comparison. They benefit from the same general health status screening but do not undergo an ECG or echocardiography. Dogs are considered normal if they have no known heart condition and meet the same criteria as above.

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