Heart of the Matter: Equine Cardiac Health

Take a look at the remarkable equine heart and what can go wrong with it, such as murmurs and atrial fibrillation.

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Heart of the Matter: Equine Cardiac Health
It’s a good idea to have your veterinarian give the heart a listen as part of a horse’s prepurchase exam or semiannual wellness exam. And the more intense your equine athletic goals, the closer the cardiac scrutiny should be. | Photo: Stephanie L. Church/The Horse

A look at the remarkable equine heart and what can go wrong. 

With the high rate of heart disease in humans, most of us are aware of our potential for cardiac troubles. But when it comes to our horses, we tend to be less informed.

Horses don’t have human-style “heart attacks.” Actually, the equine heart is a robust organ that’s not overly prone to problems. But when something does go wrong it tends to be front-page news, as in the 2011 death of 2008 Olympic individual gold-medal-winning Canadian jumper, Hickstead, from an aortic rupture.

In this article, two veterinarians well-versed in cardiac events describe the equine heart and what can go wrong

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Written by:

Jennifer O. Bryant is editor-at-large of the U.S. Dressage Federation’s magazine, USDF Connection. An independent writer and editor, Bryant contributes to many equestrian publications, has edited numerous books, and authored Olympic Equestrian. More information about Jennifer can be found on her site, www.jenniferbryant.net.

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