Some cardiac abnormalities, particularly dysrhythmias and heart murmurs, are common in horses, particularly in equine athletes, and are often linked to loss of performance. Many perfectly healthy horses have a slightly irregular cardiac ryhthm or a murmur which may not be significant. However, some changes in rhythm (atrial fibrillation being the most common) and some murmurs are clinically significant and may impact on a horse’s athletic performance. Other heart problems can result from injury or trauma to the heart structure, disruption of electrical signals, or illness elsewhere in the body. Heart disease can develop quickly or over a period of time and should be fully investigated.
Our cardiology services are led by renowned specialist Professor Celia Marr, who is able to carry out detailed cardiological investigations, including resting and exercising measurement of cardiac rhythm by telemetric ECG (electrocardiograph) and a detailed assessment of heart structure and movement, including complete evaluation of murmurs, using ultrasonography (colour flow Doppler echocardiography). We offer a comprehensive range of diagnostic facilities for cardiology, coupled with the most advanced treatments and, where required, 24 hour monitoring in our intensive care unit.
ECGs can now be obtained very simply, using modern digital equipment that is small enough to fit under a saddle pad, which records ECGs while the horse exercises freely. This has proven to be invaluable for examining animals at rest and in simulated race, event or endurance race conditions.
We welcome referrals for investigations of murmurs and rhythm changes identified during pre-purchase examinations, or during routine health checks, in addition to referrals for poor performance or illness associated with cardiac conditions.
Read more in these articles by Celia Marr:
ECG Reading Service
Celia Marr offers an ECG reading service to veterinary surgeons.
There are now several excellent and accessible tools for recording ECGs in practice. If you would like advice on interpretation, please contact email@example.com with a brief history and details of the horse's activity during the recording.