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Heart Murmur's in horses?

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  • Heart Murmur's in horses?

    I have recently found out that my horse has a heart murmur. Does anyone have any expiriance with horses with heart murmur's and how it effects them?

  • #2
    It really depends on exactly what is causing the murmur - some murmurs are no problem and others can be more problematic.

    A cardiac ultrasound (echocardiogram) will tell you more if your vet wasn't sure what the murmur is from (and it can be hard to tell with just a stethoscope).


    • #3
      Do a search--the topic comes up every couple of months and there are numerous discussions that will probably be very informative and reassuring to you.
      Click here before you buy.


      • Original Poster

        thanks for the tip, I will have to check into that with her. She didnt specify what could be causing his heart murmur. It was actually a suprise to find out, she had come out to do his teeth and he has to be sedated so she listed to his heart before and suprise we find out he has a heart murmur.


        • #5
          do a search for this thread title: Heart Murmur? What to do?; it was up in june of this year and you will get more comfort w/ the situation. I would say probably not an issue but definitely ultrasound to find out.
          We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


          • #6
            I can only share my personal experience, as overall I don't have much experience with equine heart murmurs, but anyway...

            Approximately a year after I picked up an older, retired, freebie TB, he had a Lymphangitis flare up. The vet came out to administer pain meds and get a head start on antibiotics, checked his heart, as usual, and found a very loud murmur, graded 3.5. The horse was happy, active, and healthy apart from the Lymphangitis, so this came as a surprise, especially because it had developed within a few months (between spring shots and the end of the summer). The vet was VERY concerned and proceeded to scare the $hit out of me, telling me he wasn't safe to ride, he could fall over dead, watch for signs of heart failure, etc etc. Well, all of that nearly gave ME a heart attack. I came to COTH in an absolute panic (I'm sure you can find the thread if you feel like searching) and was calmed down by some wonderful COTHers. Basically while "heart murmur" sounds scary, it usually isn't. Horses with heart murmurs can have successful competition and riding careers, never be affected by the murmur, and live a long and healthy life. This is the majority of cases! So far *knocking vigorously on wood* my TB hasn't shown any symptoms of heart problems, is herd leader, and loves the occasional gallop around the field (at age 21!). He looks great, feels great, and has plenty of energy.
            If he was a riding horse I would have pushed to diagnose whatever malfunction is going on in his heart. But diagnostics are expensive for a pasture puff, and generally there is little to be done to reverse a heart murmur, although there are a few drugs out that can treat heart malfunctions (never really looked into it though). Generally heart murmurs do not create significant problems, but assuming this horse is a riding horse, diagnostics should be done to make sure this horse is safe to continue to ride.
            come what may

            Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


            • #7
              My hunter mare has a heart murmur - I have had her 2 years and never a problem with her. It was found on a PPE with her prior owner at Cornell.


              • #8
                A QH I bought as a project had a heart murmur when the vet checked him; it never gave him any problems in the 18 months I had him.


                • #9
                  My guy has had a heart murmur for about 5 years now. It has never affected him.
                  Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                  My equine soulmate
                  Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding


                  • #10
                    My mare also has a murmur, found on the PPE. It's never affected her, although vet says to gradually and thoughtfully increase her stamina if we ever wanted to do serious riding at high elevation or extreme heat.


                    • #11
                      My vet just found a heart murmur on my horse about a year ago. He is now 20 years old. I have had him for seven years and never knew he had it. He has been sedated several times to do hocks and teeth and it was never mentioned before. But, last fall, El Doctor said, while doing the annual check-up, "How long has he had a heart murmur?" To which I responded that it was news to me that he had a heart murmur!

                      Anyway, the vet said that horses can develop a faint murmur (which mine has) with age and that it is normal. He advised that he probably had developed it recently. However, he did say that if I never noticed anything with regard to inexplicable weight loss or fatigue during normal hacks and workouts that I needed to call him ASAP. Those symptoms would indicate that something serious was going on with his ticker.

                      I did not have my horse ultrasounded because the vet was not concerned about the severity of the murmur given my horse's age and the fact that my horse was thriving and still spunky. He did say that it was something that may bring about his eventual end, but that it was nothing to fret over now.

                      So, I think it depends on the severity of the murmur and the horse's age, what you plan to do/are doing with the horse, etc... a lot of variables.

                      Good Luck!
                      "The Prince" aka Front Row
                      Cavalier Manor


                      • #12
                        I second (or third) the suggestion to get a definitive answer as to why your vet hears a heart murmur. My regular vet thought that was what my old TB had and that it developed because of migrating bacteria from a sinus infection to the mitral valve. It wasn't. An echo explained why it sounded like a heart murmur and gave us the information we needed. If by chance you're anywhere around NY or down through MidAtlantic, pm me and I can share the contact info for a specialist who travels and reviews these kinds of cases. In any event, good luck with your guy - hope all is well.


                        • #13
                          I second, and third, an echocardiogram to find out more. There are multiple types of heart murmurs depending on which valve is affected. That will enable you to have a better idea of what is going on and what the prognosis is. You did not say the age of your horse either, which also affects prognosis and level of concern. Mitral valve murmurs affects the valve coming from the lungs. The aortic valve controls the pumping to the body. An atrial septal or ventricular septal defect can also cause a murmur which means that the walls between the chambers has a hole and unoxygenated and oxygenated blood are mixing in the heart.

                          Older horses have a higher risk of developing a heart murmur. This is generally an incidental finding (such as the poster that found out during a routine teeth floating appointment).

                          In my case, my coming 7 year old was found to have a heart murmur at a PPE as a 4 yr old. An echocardiogram showed it was grade 3/5 mitral valve. This is the valve located where the oxygenated blood from the lungs returns to the heart. The risk here is that the everytime the heart beats the blood does not go forward out of the heart, but some leaks through this mitral valve back towards the lungs. This is the sound that is heard as a murmur. This puts the horse at risk of pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary edema and heart failure. He has not had any symptoms related to his murmur. A repeat echo at 6 yr old revealed no change. But it is still too soon to say if there will be changes and symptoms later. In my case it was worth the risk for this horse.

                          PS - both echocardiograms were performed by board certified internal medicine equine specialists.
                          Last edited by ride3day; Dec. 14, 2012, 05:50 PM. Reason: to include grade 3/5 and board certified vets


                          • Original Poster

                            Thank you everyone for all of the help and advice! I will post an update when I find out more from the vet!


                            • #15
                              I found out this past summer that my 29 year old mare has TWO heart murmurs. I have no idea how long she's had this problem. Right now she doesn't seem affected by it....I have semi retired her though. She had some other problems since last summer too so I don't know for sure exactly what effects the heart murmur has had on her.
                              "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."