• Open Access

Cardiovascular Effects of Acute Pulmonary Obstruction in Horses with Recurrent Airway Obstruction



Background:Recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) is common in horses. Although pulmonary artery (PA) pressure increases during RAO, cardiac function in horses with RAO has received limited attention.

Hypothesis:The purpose of this study was to noninvasively determine the cardiovascular effects of acute pulmonary obstruction (APO) in horses with RAO and their reversibility.

Animals:Five geldings with RAO, inducible by exposure to moldy hay, were studied.

Methods:Pulmonary mechanics, echocardiography, serum troponin I concentrations, arterial blood gases, and hematocrit were obtained before and after 7 days of APO. Heart rate, PA diameter and flow characteristics, right and left ventricular Iuminal dimensions and wall thicknesses, global cardiac performance, and evidence of myocardial damage were evaluated. Pulmonary mechanics and echocardiography were reevaluated during remission.

Results:Severe, transient APO did not induce chronic cor pulmonale in horses, because cardiac anatomy and function were normal between episodes. An acute episode of APO produced anatomical and functional cardiac changes in both the right and left heart (including increased PA diameter, abnormal septal motion, and decreased left ventricular diameter and estimated stroke volume), possibly because of the development of pulmonary hypertension, without apparent myocardial damage. The decrease in stroke volume was offset by the increase in heart rate.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: With APO of 7 days' duration, cardiovascular abnormalities and the functional airway changes that produce them are reversible when the offending allergens are removed.