Myxomatous mitral valve degeneration (MMVD) is the most common heart disease in dogs. Onset of symptoms may be between 5 to 7 years of age. Mitral valve is a valve that lies between the left atrium and the left ventricle. Blood travels from the left atrium to the left ventricle and, through the aorta, to the rest of the body. A degenerative mitral valve causes “regurgitation” of blood from the left ventricle back into the left atrium. As the regurgitative condition progresses, the left atrium gradually becomes dilated, which may progress to pulmonary edema, an emergency condition that requires hospitalization and, in the worst case, can lead to death. Common signs include exercise intolerance, cough, and respiratory distress. While stage B1 MMVD requires no treatment besides regular health check, patients in stage B2 or above need to be treated.
- Pharmacotherapy: Cope with the disease by use of heart medications such as vasodilators, inotropes, and/or diuretics to mitigate the symptoms.
- Surgical therapy: In human, almost all cases of the counterpart disease of MMVD is treated surgically. We also recommend surgery to canine patients whenever indicated.