Cardiorespiratory Investigations

Cardiorespiratory disorders are very common and are frequently a cause of poor performance.  If a horse experiences a sudden loss of performance or simply 'runs out of petrol', a full evaluation of the heart and lungs may be necessary and can be carried out by our team of specialist clinicians.

Examination of a horse's upper airway structures (larynx, pharynx, soft palate) at rest and during exercise will include endoscopy and overground endoscopy.   This allows our clinicians to quickly and accurately diagnose a wide range of respiratory abnormalities.  A cardiology examination involves colour flow Doppler echocardiography, an ECG (electrocardiograph) at rest, and also an exercising ECG if indicated. This allows us to investigate a number of disorders, most notably those associated with heart murmurs and dysrhythmias.

Heart murmurs are common in all types of horses and ponies. They are often detected during pre-purchase examinations and this can lead to considerable concern over their possible future impact on the horse’s suitability for intended use. Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases, the heart murmur is not indicative of any major heart disease and, once a full evaluation has been completed, the horse will 'pass the vetting'.

ECGs can now be obtained very simply, using modern digital equipment. This has proven to be invaluable for examining horses at rest and under simulated race, event or endurance race conditions.

ECG from a galloping horse. Note the rhythm is disrupted briefly indicating ventricular premature complexes.

Many of our cardiorespiratory medical investigations are co-ordinated by Professor Celia Marr. Celia is an RCVS Specialist and a European Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine. She is internationally recognised for her work on cardiology and internal medicine. 

Cardiology