Horses are very athletic animals and their hearts and cardiovascular system have evolved such that their cardiovascular function has a much greater capacity relative to us.
However, heart problems are still of frequent concern in horses performing poorly and in either very young, or older horses.
Heart problems in horses often go unnoticed until detected at the time of yearly vaccinations, as part of a pre-purchase examination (vetting) or may result in subtle symptoms like poor performance or filling between the front legs.
In general terms, heart problems in horses can be due to either an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) or heart murmurs (often due to “leaky” heart valves).
In order to examine your horse for cardiac problems we generally perform an investigation in two phases. Initially we perform a thorough clinical examination which includes:
Once we've identified potential problems, we can then arrange the most appropriate diagnostic plan. Options include:
The full cardiac assessment aims to answer questions such as:
If a heart murmur has been detected in your horse, or it has not be recommended for purchase at a vetting because of a heart murmur, please feel free to contact us for advice. If you would like a second opinion please contact us to talk to one of the vets. Before a second opinion can be given we will contact your veterinary surgeon (it is essential that we obtain your horse’s medical records first). If we feel specialist expertise is required, we call upon our cardiology consultant, Dr Lesley Young BVSc DVC DVA DipECEIM PhD MRCVS, for an in-house referral to examine your horse with us, so that you receive the best service possible.