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Equine Practice
Evaluation of cardiac murmurs in horses 1. Clinical examination
  1. Mark Patteson

    Mark Patteson qualified from Cambridge in 1986. He is currently in practice near Dursley, Gloucestershire, where he runs a referral service in equine and small animal cardiology. He has several publications in the field of cardiology and ultrasonography; his book ‘Equine Cardiology’ was published by Blackwell Science in 1996.

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  2. Karen Blissitt

    Karen Blissitt (née Long) graduated from Liverpool in 1982. She is lecturer in anaesthesia and equine cardiology at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. Her current studies include an investigation of the progression of valvular dysfunction in horses and the use of transoesophageal echocardiography to assess ventricular function in anaesthetised horses.

Abstract

CARDIAC murmurs are common in horses. Around 60 per cent of horses have murmurs; however, most are functional murmurs which are unrelated to heart disease. The critical part of the clinical examination is to identify those murmurs which are caused by cardiac disease, which may affect the athletic performance or even the riding safety of the animal, from functional murmurs which are of no clinical significance. Without a clear understanding of the genesis of cardiac murmurs, and some guided clinical experience, this can be difficult and, consequently, identification of a murmur in a horse is a common source of concern to vets and owners. This, the first of two articles describing the evaluation of cardiac murmurs, concentrates on identifying the source of a murmur and assessing its effects from a clinical examination. Echocardiographic evaluation of murmurs will be discussed in the next issue.

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