Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran


Heart murmurs and valvular regurgitation are common in horses and often have no effect on their performance. However, when structural changes occur in the heart size, they can affect performance adversely. This study aimed to examine the correlation between cardiac valves disease and poor performance in athletic horses. A total of 300 athletic Thoroughbred and mix-breed horses including 164 Mares and 136 Stallions, with a history of poor performance, were selected. Horses with cardiac murmurs were identified and further cardiac examination including precise auscultation, base-apex electrocardiogram for possible dysrhythmias at rest and after exercise, echocardiographic and hematological tests were conducted in two stages. The first was at admission time and the second examination was done four to six months later to evaluate the outcome of the possible disorders. Respiratory system and musculoskeletal diseases were diagnosed respectively in 93 and 149 out of 300 examined horses and 36 horses showed heart murmur without any other complications. Echocardiography was performed in horses with heart murmur and 25 of them showed regurgitation of the cardiac valve. During the first examination, 7 horses were diagnosed with regurgitation and changes in the size of cardiac chambers, whereas this number increased to 25 during the second examination. There was no significant relationship between degree of murmur and severity of regurgitant jet in horses. The valvular regurgitation can affect the performance when causing changes in the size of the cardiac chambers which can consequently jeopardize the athletic future of the horse.


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