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Mitral valve disease (MVD) is the most common heart condition in older small breed dogs and believed to comprise about 75 percent of the cardiac cases seen by veterinarians. Some patients live comfortably after diagnosis, but most dogs with MVD eventually succumb to congestive heart failure in spite of treatment. A genetic component is strongly suspected to play a role in disease development; some breeds, including Cavalier King Charles spaniels, poodles and dachshunds, have a notably higher incidence of disease. Since specific genetic mutations associated with MVD have not been identified, researchers will search for genes that contribute to the development and severity of this cardiac condition. Discovery of genetic markers would help clinicians identify at-risk individuals before they develop heart disease. It also would allow early pre-breeding screening to reduce MVD prevalence and improve clinical management of dogs with this progressive heart disease.

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North Carolina State University
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United States
Kathryn M. Meurs, DVM, PhD
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