Displaying items by tag: heart disease

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Novel drug treats hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the most common feline heart disease.
Jan 05, 2017
By dvm360.com staff

UC Davis veterinary cardiologist Joshua Stern performs an echocardiogram on a cat, assisted by animal health technicians Heather Schrader, right, and Judy Schettler. (Photo: Don Preisler/UC Davis)A new drug shows promise for treating heart disease in both cats and people, according to a team of veterinarians and other researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), School of Veterinary Medicine.

The drug, MYK-461, proved effective in a study of five cats with a naturally occurring form of inherited hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a currently incurable disease that also affects people, a recent release from UC Davis states.

According to the release, HCM is the most common form of feline heart disease and results in thickening of the walls of the heart ventricles and altering of heart function. Cats with this disease may suffer blood clot formation, congestive heart failure and sudden death. In people, HCM is a frequent cause of sudden cardiac death that can even afflict seemingly healthy young athletes.

HCM affects approximately one in 500 people and may affect as many as one in seven cats. More than 1,500 genetic mutations have been associated with the disease in people, creating challenges for researchers. However, veterinary scientists are making strides in identifying the best treatment options for the disease since the feline condition and human condition are so similar.

In the study, treatment with MYK-461 eliminated left ventricular obstruction in five cats with HCM. The novel drug is the first in its class and uniquely addresses the functional changes seen in human and feline HCM, the release states.

“This is an exciting discovery for both animals and humans—an excellent representation of the One Health concept in action,” says Associate Professor Joshua Stern, chief of the Cardiology Service at the UC Davis veterinary hospital. “The positive result in these five cats shows that MYK-461 is viable for use in cats as a possible option to halt or slow the progression of HCM.”

Current treatment for cats with HCM is largely symptomatic. There is no preventative therapy for HCM that is shown to change the course of disease.

“There has been little to no progress in advancing the treatment of HCM in humans or animals for many years,” Stern says. “This study brings new hope for cats and people.”

With this proof of concept that the drug is viable for use in cats, UC Davis hopes to conduct a clinical trial in the near future, which could determine if MYK-461 has the potential to become the accepted protocol for care of cats with HCM.

According to the American Heart Association, there have been reported associations between pet ownership and cardiovascular health in the last decade. Owning pets — specifically dogs — may help reduce the risk of heart disease in pet owners in a number of ways.

In addition to companionship, dogs can encourage laughter, physical activity, and other benefits effective in decreasing stress levels. Dr. Sarah Griffin, lecturer at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences explained why owning dogs may be related to decreased stress levels. “The American Heart Association has said that owning pets can have a positive effect on how people react to stress,” she said. “Chronic stress has not been shown to directly increase risk factors associated with heart disease, but it can lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices that are associated with high blood pressure and increased risk for heart disease.”

High blood pressure, another common contributor to heart disease, has also been analyzed in relation to dog ownership. “Reduction in blood pressure reduces risk for coronary heart disease,” Griffin explained. “A group of Oregon State University graduate students recently found dog owners have significantly lower levels of systolic blood pressure than people who don't own dogs.”

In addition, dog owners are more likely to achieve the recommended level of physical activity per day through walking their dog and taking their dog to parks. “The American Heart Association says owning a dog is likely associated with lower heart disease risk, partially because dog owners are 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity each day,” Griffin said. “Many people who own dogs take them on walks, go to the park, or go to dog parks. These activities provide exercise for both the owner and dog.”

However, some people question if healthier people tend to own dogs, or if dogs really do have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. For example, there are many dog owners that do not participate in daily exercise with their dog. Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that no study proves that owning a pet, particularly a dog, reduces the risk of heart disease. Having a dog may help with factors associated with a healthy heart, but a direct link between cardiovascular health and dog ownership has not been found.

It is still unclear whether owning a dog directly reduces the risk for heart disease, but recent studies suggest that dogs may be beneficial to heart health. Despite positive new research, Griffin does not encourage people to get a dog solely for a reduced heart disease risk. “Getting a dog is not the answer to better heart health, but actively caring for a dog does promote a healthier lifestyle,” she said.