00898-A: Diagnosis and Progression of Acquired Mitral Valve Disease in Whippets

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $6,070.88
Rebecca L. Stepien, DVM; University of Wisconsin, Madison
March 1, 2007 - February 28, 2009


Breed(s): Whippet
Research Program Area: Cardiology
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Project Summary

Since 2004, approximately 270 clinically healthy whippets have been studied with auscultation and echocardiography to determine the prevalence and severity of mitral valve disease and mitral regurgitation in the healthy show population. This study represents one year of data in what is projected to be a 7-10 year longitudinal study of the progression of the disease. Data from 2007 has been analyzed in detail and indicates that the prevalence of ausculted murmurs is high. Below are the implications based on the findings so far of the this study. Implications of study for non-breeding dogs: Detection of a grade 3 or higher left apical systolic murmur is highly likely to indicate moderate to severe mitral regurgitation, even in clinically normal dogs. Auscultation alone may be enough to identify moderate or severely affected dogs. Implications of study for breeding animals: Auscultation alone is not adequate to detect milder degrees of mitral regurgitation in whippets. The significance of mild mitral regurgitation in young, clinically healthy breeding animals remains unclear until data from the longitudinal study is analyzed, but if detection of any degree of MR is of concern to breeders, these study results indicate that Dopplerechocardiographic examination is required to exclude the presence of mild degrees of MR. Implications of Study for athletic dogs: Left basilar systolic murmurs in athletic whippets are common, but if detected systolic murmurs are loudest at the left apex of the heart, these findings may indicate mitral insufficiency, even in high-performing athletes. "Functional" left basilar systolic heart murmurs may be difficult to differentiate from left apical murmurs by physical examination (auscultation) alone. Doppler-echocardiographic examination is required to distinguish between "functional" basilar murmurs and mitral insufficiency murmurs in dogs with ambiguous auscultatory findings.


Stepien, R. L., Kellihan, H. B., & Luis Fuentes, V. (2017). Prevalence and diagnostic characteristics of non-clinical mitral regurgitation murmurs in North American Whippets. Journal of Veterinary Cardiology, 19(4), 317–324. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvc.2017.04.004

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