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A research tale with a heart to match: Professor looks at cardiovascular disease in dogs
Date:8/3/2011

MANHATTAN -- For more than 15 years, Kansas State University researcher Michele Borgarelli has studied heart diseases in man's best friend.

But there is an interesting twist in his work with mitral valve disease: chronic mitral valve disease in dogs is similar to the same disease affecting humans, making Borgarelli's research beneficial to dog's best friend, too.

Further proof of the bond between owner and dog? Perhaps.

But for Borgarelli, Kansas State University associate professor of cardiology, the heart-filled similarities motivate him to learn more about mitral valve disease, the most common acquired cardiovascular disease in dogs.

The disease is a heart condition where the mitral valve -- one of the four valves in the heart -- deteriorates. As the valve deteriorates, more blood backflows through the valve and can lead to congestive heart failure.

"We know that the disease affects geriatric dogs very commonly," Borgarelli said. "I'm interested to know why some dogs progress faster and die from the disease when other dogs do not."

Small breed dogs, such as Cavalier King Charles spaniels, cocker spaniels, dachshunds, miniature poodles and Yorkshire terriers are more prone to chronic mitral valve disease. But Borgarelli's research has shown that the disease can also affect large breed dogs, such as German shepherds. He wants to search a list of factors to identify dogs more likely to progress to a severe disease stage.

"Although a lot of these patients never progress to heart failure, you don't want to wait until they get to an age where it is too late," Borgarelli said. "You want to identify these patients as early as possible."

About 70 percent of the dogs that are affected by mitral valve disease are not affected from heart failure and do not die from the disease.

"That's very similar to people," Borgarelli said. "There are some people who don't progress to heart failure even
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Contact: Michele Borgarelli
mborgare@k-state.edu
785-532-4237
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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