Some people believe the heart is where the soul resides. While a horse’s heart may touch our lives in emotional ways, it is also the most important organ to a horse’s health. The heart pumps blood through the arteries, veins and capillaries delivering oxygen and other nutrients to all tissues of the body. The health of the heart can be compromised by age, infection, exercise level and weight. Fortunately many of the heart diseases that commonly affect humans are rare in horses because they eat a vegetarian diet, usually get plenty of exercise and do not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol!
Symptoms of Heart Disease in Horses:
– Labored Breathing / Shortness of Breath
– Decreased Exercise Tolerance
– Reduced Appetite
– Lethargy / Weakness
– Fluid accumulation in the abdomen
The most common type of heart disease in horses is chronic valvular disease where the valves in the heart wear out as the animal ages. When the valves of the heart do not close all of the way, the heart becomes less efficient and through a stethoscope you can hear a murmur. Genetic defects are possible, but most heart disease is acquired in older horses. The best way to take care of your horse’s heart is to make sure they see the vet on an annual basis so the vet can listen to their heart and catch any disorders before they advance.
Effects of intermittent positive pressure ventilation on cardiopulmonary function in horses anesthetized with total intravenous anesthesia using combination of medetomidine, lidocaine, butorphanol and propofol (MLBP-TIVA)