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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