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horses with heart murmors

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  • horses with heart murmors

    i was wondering if anyone had experience with horses with heart murmors. i know it is somewhat of an uncommon condition found in horses, but unfortunetly that is what my mare was diagnosed about a year ago. she has done great up until this point, and i just scheduled her a follow up appt for further testing in a week. i was told back at her original appt that she was a 5 out of 6, which is pretty significant to find for the first time. this could either mean it was overlooked by routine vetting she had every year, or it just came on very quickly and aggressively. the symptoms they told me to watch for was coughing, heavy breathing, and pale gums. also that she would either eventually pass from a blood clot, which is uncontrollable and can be completely random, or she would go into heart failure and i assume, have to be euth. im just wondering if anyone on here has had any experience/knowledge with this condition and can share with me what you/your horse went through and how things pregressed, meds you may have tried, and how long your horse lived with this. thanks

  • #2
    I had a jumper with a 2 heart murmur. He lived to a ripe old age, in fact I was still showing him over fences when he was 23. I hope your mares heart lasts at least as long.


    • #3
      Mine also has a heart murmur, found by my vet during our PPE when she was 11. He didn't assign a number, but did recommend some caution during hard work at a high elevation or in extreme heat, or
      in legging her up if she were out of work for an extended period.

      She's in terrific shape and has great stamina.


      • #4
        It all depends on the cause of the heart murmur. A murmur is just a sound. Our 24 year old TB has had a murmur intermittently since we got him at age 8. The vet felt it did not indicate anything was wrong with his heart. My neighbor's horse has a murmur and has severe valve disease on his echocardiogram. Most likely, he will eventually go into heart failure and die. His owner is not riding him because she is afraid he could have a sudden death if she rides.

        Human children sometimes have murmurs just when they are excited or have a fever. Those murmurs don't usually mean anything. I think horses are the same way. You need a workup in order to know the prognosis and if any treatment is needed.


        • #5
          Use the advanced search function and look for MistyBlue (as the author) and the keyword murmur. She had a mare with that condition. Change the start of the date function to the longest period (I think "one year ago") and chose "posts" not threads. :-)


          • #6
            Lots of threads on this topic.

            Loudness of a murmur does not correlate--at all--with the severity of the actual lesion.

            To be definitive, you need an echocardiogram. Everything else is guesswork.
            Click here before you buy.


            • #7
              I agree with Deltawave. You won't know anything until you get an echocardiogram. My OTTB had one for atrial fib. Luckily his heart itself is in great shape. It was $515 for all cardiologist fees, tests, etc. So definitely not the worst vet bill I've ever had! Good luck!


              • Original Poster

                about a year ago she had an echo done, to sum it up i was told her aortic valve was not functioning correctly, that it was allowing blood to flow back in when its supposed to be flowing out. this means blood isnt getting to her organs as well as it should be- causing her heart to work harder to get the blood supply to them- which will cause her heart to enlarge and then im assuming the heart failure comes next.. they also said that it could cause fluid build up in her lungs and/or chest? i believe the symptoms for that are the heavy breathing and the coughing, like pnemonia type symptoms.
                AKB - your neighbors horse sounds like my situation, they recomended i didnt ride her anymore because any excitement or work could possibly set off a blood clot and result in sudden death. how long has your neighbors horse had this condition? and did they tell her there might be meds for the horse to go on to help stabalize him? i was told depending on how it progressed i may be able to put her on meds..


                • #9
                  I have had four heart murmur horses. My Red mare had a "resting murmur" meaning it went away when at work. It did not seem to affect her, but definately affected the price I paid for her!

                  My gibbled gelding has a loud murmur. My vet has advised me that the loudness likely means it is a smaller hole. I have been told to keep him fit, and if he falls out of fitness to bring him back slowly. Other than that, to watch out for signs of heart failure as he gets much older.

                  Another gelding here has two heart murmurs. One "galloping heart" which is an extra beat and is supposedly fairly common in TBs and one leaky valve. You can only hear the second murmur when he is tranqued. The horse is a nut, and I often wonder if his racing heart makes him feel anxious.

                  I also recently bought a gelding (sight unseen) that we found to have a heart murmur when I got his teeth done.

                  None of my heart murmur horses require special feed or meds at this point, but I am more careful about their fitness, and their tolerance for fitness. My vet does not feel that the murmur will be an issue until well into their teens.
                  Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                  • #10
                    Had the vet out several years ago for a horse that choked. In the process of working on the mare, the vet said she had a "5" heart murmur. Wanted her to be checked in a couple of weeks (nasty choke - lot of blood and old horse - 30 years old). Another vet came out for follow-up and didn't hear any 'murmur at all. Horse lived (and was ridden regularly) another couple of years before she was euthanized because her system was 'shutting down' and her survival through the coming harsh winter was doubtful at best.

                    That being said, vet did not suggest or mention echo or any specific treatment. Vet in practice for long time and from what is reputed to be one of the best clinics around. We followed vet's instructions. (Just to allay any remarks about no echos done.)
                    --Gwen <><
                    "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."


                    • #11
                      You're describing aortic insufficiency/regurgitation. It can be very well tolerated, and only if the "leak" is severe will it necessarily cause heart failure. Can you check the echo report and see how they graded the severity of the leak? Vets do it quite differently than human doctors, but if you see words like "mild" or "mild-moderate" or "1+" or "2+" the horse might never have any problems at all.
                      Click here before you buy.


                      • Original Poster

                        delta- i would have to dig up my paper work, i do know the leak was pretty significant. on the doplar it showed almost 50/50 going out and back in :\ the murmor itself was graded a 5 out of 6.
                        i just didnt know if anyone knew of a horse or had experience with it and had tried any meds, im just curious what they will suggest or the options i have. also just wondering how this will progress, i do think that it has because there is more coughing fits going on now, which is why i decided it was time for a re-evaluation and made the appt. i guess ill see what they say on friday, fingers crossed that theres something i can do to prolong her life! i hate for her to suffer in any way.


                        • #13
                          That does not sound as promising, then, I'm sorry. A lot of older horses can develop aortic insufficiency.

                          There are a half dozen medications that can be readily used to treat this kind of heart failure in humans, but nothing can fix the mechanical problem that is beneath, unfortunately. Veterinary medicine has been pretty slow to adopt the use of heart failure meds in horses, but it never hurts to ask your vet to maybe make a call to an equine cardiologist.

                          That being said, vet did not suggest or mention echo or any specific treatment.
                          I'm not sure I'd order a moderately expensive test requiring transport to a clinic on a 30 year old horse either, not right off the bat. If there's not much one can or should or would do differently knowing the result of a test, there's not much point in doing it. Sometimes knowing what NOT to do is what it takes to practice medicine sensibly.
                          Click here before you buy.


                          • #14
                            OP, my neighbor's horse has been on furosemide/Lasix, a diuretic. He has done very well for the past 2 years. She even took him back to the internal medicine vet for a repeat echocardiogram thinking he might have a better echocardiogram because he looks so good. His valve disease is unchanged, and he still has an enlarged heart. However, as he gallops around the field, it is hard to tell something is wrong. It will kill him eventually, but it is hard to know when. Until he went on the diuretic, he was coughing a lot, without any improvement from his heaves medication/Ventipulmin. I have not talked with her for a couple of months. I know they were talking about using other human heart meds for him.