• Open Access

Cardiac Changes in Horses with Atypical Myopathy


  • Part of the results were presented at the 4th Congress of the European College of Equine Internal Medicine, February 4-5, 2011, Hannover, Germany

Corresponding author: Verheyen Tinne, Department of Large Animal Internal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium; e-mail: tinne.verheyen@ugent.be



Atypical myopathy (AM) is an acute, fatal rhabdomyolysis in grazing horses that mainly affects skeletal muscles. Postmortem examinations have shown that myocardial damage also occurs. Limited information is available on the effect of AM on cardiac function in affected and surviving horses.


To describe electrocardiographic and echocardiographic changes associated with AM in the acute stage of the disease and after follow-up.


Horses (n = 12) diagnosed with AM in which cardiac ultrasound examination and ECG recording were available.


All horses underwent clinical examinations, serum biochemistry, electrocardiography, and echocardiography. Four surviving horses underwent the same examinations after 2–10 weeks.


All but 1 horse had increased cardiac troponin I concentrations and 10 horses had ventricular premature depolarizations (VPDs). All horses had prolonged corrected QT (QTcf) intervals on the day of admission and abnormal myocardial wall motion on echocardiography. One of the surviving horses still had VPDs and prolonged QTcf at follow-up after 10 weeks.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

The AM results in characteristic electrocardiographic and echocardiographic changes and may be associated with increased cardiac troponin I concentrations and VPDs. In survivors, abnormal cardiac function still may be found at follow-up after 10 weeks. Additional research in a larger group of horses is necessary to identify the long-term effects of AM on cardiac function.