Margaret C

The Cavalier Club Health Day. Part 1, Hearts

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First I would like to congratulate the Cavalier Club on organising a series of presentations by experts that were knowledgeable and able to explain their subjects in a clear and understandable manner.

Like most attendees my note taking could not keep up with the flow of talk, and I cannot read half of the disjointed sentences I scribbled down, but until the Abstracts are available on the Cavalier Club website, this may be the best you will get.

I will put my notes up as a series of blogs as & when I can do them. Comments on what I have missed out or misunderstood are welcome.

Update on Mitral Valve Research

The first speaker was an old friend, Professor Brendan Corcoran, Director of International Affairs at the Royal ( Dick ) School in Edinburgh.
He gave an update on Mitral Valve Research and spoke a little about
" The Murder of the Heart Valve" ( a full version of this lecture, filmed in October, can be seen here..... )

He said that dogs are more affected by Mitral Valve Disease than people or cats and posed the question.....Why are cavaliers most affected?

He explained that the disease starts at the tips of the leaflets within the valve, the collagen disappears.
There is a theory that the valve does not develop properly.

He spoke about the extremely sophisticated methods they now have available to examine the construction of cells, including nuclear diffraction.

Studies have shown that within the valve the edges of the leaflet are being damaged as it closes. Collagen is reduced, disorganised and failing to mature and the valve can never catch up with the damage that occurs.

Brendan spoke about tissue engineering that will allow them to make dog valves on which they can test their theories. These may allow them to find drug therapies.

A few odd sentences show he mentioned significant inbreeding of cavaliers, that abnormal collagen looks like scar tissue and that the conformation or shape of dogs' chest may affect the shape of dogs' hearts.

There is a study being undertaken to see if Cavalier MVD is the same disease as MVD in other dogs.
Brendan said this was possible thanks to the heart valves I had supplied to him through the Cavalier Collection Scheme.

Degenerative Valve Disease: Treatment and testing

Simon Swift is a European Recognised Specialist in Veterinary Cardiology and has advised the Cavalier Club on cardiac problems for twenty years.

He is still recovering from a motor bike accident and looked pale and drawn. He is due to have another operation and is not expected to return to work until February, so a debt of gratitude is owed to him for giving his presentation.

Simon started with talking about treatment, and said that despite several trials there was no evidence that treatment with an ACE inhibitor before the dog goes into heart failure will delay the onset of heart failure.

Asymptomatic dogs fed a "heart diet" did have a reduction in heart size, but whether that makes a difference in the time that heart failure starts is yet to be proven.

Simon spoke about the various drugs and combinations of drugs prescribed. The QUEST study confirmed pimobendan significantly prolongs survival longer than an ACE inhibitor when combined with frusemide.

Simon spoke about the Cavalier database and said that the first FoxPro programme made analysis problematic, so earlier results are not included.

I have some figures that appear to suggest only the 6,000 dogs tested since 1998 were able to be included on the dabase, and only those tested by a qualified cardiologist were included in the analysis of the database.
I would be pleased to hear from anyone who noted the exact number of cavaliers that were included in that analysis.

Simon spoke of how the BVA VCS and KC had agreed to take the club heart schemes for cavaliers, boxers and newfoundlands into the official testing schemes. This is being delayed because other breeds are expressing interest in being included. This had meant the forms had been redesigned quite a few times to allow for different heart problems.

Simon and Jeff Sampson did agree that it would be possible to implement a scheme for cavaliers & add other breeds later.

Scraps of information noted include.........Most dogs presented for heart testing are 1-2 years old.
No difference between males and females.
A cough can often be respiratory or lung disease so GP vets can be overprescribing drugs.
No improvement in the average age of when murmur develops.
Cardiologists pick up murmurs better than GP vets.

The Heart Breeding Guidelines were shown, We were told that it was rigorous advice that should be properly followed.
I looked at those members of the audience who are routinely mating stud dogs and bitches under the age of 2.5 years and wondered if they would continue after what they had heard that day. We will see.

Finally we were told that because of the short time frame, and differences in the breeding programmes , the results of recent Swedish study were not applicable to the UK.

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Updated 25th November 2010 at 12:53 PM by Margaret C