Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a progressive and potentially life-threatening disease. Several drugs are used for the treatment of dogs with precapillary PH. Pimobendan is an inotropic drug with phosphodiesterase 3 inhibitory and calcium-sensitizing effects. Pimobendan administration improved right ventricular (RV) function and lowered pulmonary arterial pressure in some human patients with precapillary PH. However, the efficacy of pimobendan in dogs with precapillary PH is unknown.
An implantable port device was percutaneously placed in the cranial vena cava of five laboratory beagles. Chronic embolic precapillary PH was induced via the repeated injection of microspheres every 1-2 days. Microsphere injection was continued until systolic pulmonary arterial pressure reached 50 mmHg. Right heart catheterization and echocardiography were performed at baseline and after injections of placebo and pimobendan (0.15 mg/kg).
Repeated injections of microspheres caused an increase in pulmonary vascular resistance, a decrease in stroke volume, RV dilation, left ventricular (LV) and RV dysfunction, and RV dyssynchrony as assessed using echocardiography. Compared with placebo, pimobendan improved LV and RV function based on the LV Tei index from 0.48 to 0.38 (p=0.002) and the RV Tei index from 0.76 to 0.61 (p=0.008), as well as the stroke volume index from 29.4 to 36.7 ml/m (p=0.012), respectively.
In dog models of chronic PH, intravenous pimobendan effectively improved RV and LV function and increased stroke volume. However, pimobendan administration did not decrease pulmonary arterial pressure or produce hypotension.

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