Prognostic value of circulating cortisol in canine congestive heart failure

Area of Study: 

Purpose of Study: 

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a common disease in dogs. A major contributor to disease progression in CHF is the body’s renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), whose end product aldosterone causes negative effects on the heart and blood vessels by binding to mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs). RAAS activation is associated with a worse prognosis, and drugs that block MRs lead to better outcomes in humans and dogs with CHF. The stress hormone cortisol can also bind these receptors.

In people with CHF, higher blood levels of either aldosterone or cortisol independently predict increased mortality; however, in patients treated with MR-blocking drugs, cortisol is not associated with outcome. These findings suggest that the benefit of MR blockade may have more to do with blocking cortisol than with blocking aldosterone. The role of cortisol in dogs with CHF remains unknown.  

The purpose of this study is to determine whether levels of blood aldosterone or cortisol are associated with higher risk of death in dogs with CHF.

Client Responsibilities: 

If you agree to have your animal participate in this study, the participation will last for 2 visits to the hospital approximately 1-2 weeks apart.

During study visits, the following procedures will be performed as part of this study: blood sample and urine collection.

Your dog will be gently restrained (standing, sitting, or lying down) for these procedures. All procedures will be performed by licensed veterinarians, licensed veterinary technicians, or supervised veterinary students.

Client Benefits: 

Costs of diagnostic tests related to the study (blood and urine testing for cortisol and aldosterone levels, as well as other cardiac and inflammatory biomarkers) will be paid for by the study.

You will be responsible for costs of all diagnostic tests or treatments related to your pet’s heart disease, including other routine blood and urine testing, physical examinations, echocardiography, blood pressure, electrocardiography, chest X-rays, and medications. You will be responsible for any costs associated with follow-up of your dog’s heart failure disease, the treatment of any complications that may arise, and unrelated medical conditions. There will be no additional compensation for participation.


Dr Allison Masters: 515-294-4900

Dr Jessica Ward: 515-294-4900