Cardiac arrhythmias in clinically healthy showjumping horses.Equine Vet J Suppl. 2010 NovEV
REASONS FOR PERFORMING STUDY
Electrocardiographic reference values of clinically normal horses during exercise are a prerequisite when evaluating horses with poor performance or horses presented with cardiac abnormalities (e.g. valvular regurgitation). No published studies have reported cardiac rhythms of clinically normal showjumping horses.
To demonstrate the feasibility of obtaining exercise electrocardiogram (ECG) in normal horses during showjumping and also to document the prevalence and frequency of arrhythmias in association with exercise.
Thirty-four healthy showjumping horses aged 4-13 years (mean 7.5 years) underwent clinical examination and resting echocardiography. Modified chest lead ECG examinations were performed during rest, during a standardised showjumping course, as well as for the following 45 min recovery. All ECG recordings were analysed for presence and frequency of arrhythmias.
Six horses (17%) were excluded due to ECG recordings of poor diagnostic quality. Echocardiography demonstrated that 11 (39%) horses had one or more mild or moderate valvular regurgitations, but no associations were found between valvular regurgitation and arrhythmias. Supraventricular premature complexes (SVPCs) were found in 9 (32%) horses at rest, 25 (89%) during exercise and 15 (54%) during recovery. Only few arrhythmias occurred in each horse (<9 SVPCs/horse); however, one horse had 13 single SVPCs during exercise and another developed 41 SVPCs during recovery. SVPCs occurred typically at low HR (40-98 beats/min). Ventricular premature complexes (VPCs) was demonstrated in 5 (18%) horses during exercise and 2 (7%) during recovery, with <2 VPCs/horse.
It is possible to obtain good quality ECG during showjumping. Reference values for normal performing showjumping horses are presented for the first time and showed a high prevalence of SVPCs both during and after exercise, but few VPCs.
Normal reference values enable future studies of cardiac function in showjumping horses presented with poor performance and provide valuable information for veterinary practitioners in the field.