Study: Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage Prevented by Furosemide

Furosemide does more than enhance performance in Thoroughbred racehorses; it also has beneficial effects on the health and welfare of those horses, the American Veterinary Medical Association announced in a statement regarding a study to be

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Furosemide does more than enhance performance in Thoroughbred racehorses; it also has beneficial effects on the health and welfare of those horses, the American Veterinary Medical Association announced in a statement regarding a study to be published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA).


Most countries ban the race-day use of furosemide because it improves performance in racehorses. Only the United States, some South American countries (including Brazil), and some tracks in Canada, allow the use of furosemide on race day.


“The data in the study provides the most reliable information to guide the highly politicized debate over use of furosemide in horses,” says Kenneth Hinchcliff, BVSc, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, professor and Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Melbourne, and co-author with Paul Morley, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, Colorado State University, and Alan Guthrie, BVSc, PhD, University of Pretoria in South Africa. “To date, there has been only a limited amount of high-quality evidence–and none matching the quality of this study–to inform the debate. We know that furosemide is associated with improved performance, and that exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) markedly affects race performance. But we didn’t know the answer to the third–and most important–leg of the trifecta: Whether furosemide is effective in treating EIPH. We now know.”


The study, “Efficacy of furosemide for prevention of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage in Thoroughbred racehorses,” which will appear in the July 1, 2009, issue of the JAVMA, is the first of its kind to draw a definitive link between the use of the drug and the prevention of the bleeding condition in Thoroughbreds.


The study included 167 Thoroughbred racehorses that performed under typical racing conditions in South Africa between Nov. 20 and Nov. 28, 2007. Each horse in the study raced twice, once after receiving furosemide before the race and once after receiving a placebo. The results showed that horses were 3 to 11 times as likely to have EIPH after placebo administration as they were after administration of furosemide. In addition, about two-thirds of the horses that had EIPH after administration of the placebo had a reduction in EIPH severity when treated with furosemide

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