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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • echocardiographic mensuration;
  • heart score;
  • maximal oxygen consumption;
  • cardiac output

Summary

We evaluated the relationships of heart score (HS) and echocardiographic measures to maximal oxygen consumption (V̇o2max), maximal cardiac output (Q̇max), and maximal stroke volume (SVmax). Six fit, mature Thoroughbred horses weighing (mean ± s.e.) 487 ± 11 kg were run 4 times on an inclined (10%) treadmill. Each run consisted of a 3 min warm-up at 4 m/s followed by completion of an incremental exercise test in which each horse ran until V̇os2max was reached. Arterial and mixed venous blood was collected to determine arteriovenous oxygen content difference [C(a-v)o2] in the last 15 s of exercise. An ATL HDI 3000 ultrasound system and a 3.5 MHz phased array transducer were used to make echocardiographic measurements before and within 2 min of run completion. Guided M-mode echocardiographic measurements of left ventricular diameter (LVD), interventricular septal thickness (IVS) and left ventricular free wall thickness (LVFW) during diastole (D) and systole (S) were made from the right parasternal short axis view at the level of the chordae, and V̇o2 and C(a-v)o2 were measured as the appropriate M-mode view was recorded. Maximum heart rate (HRmax) was determined using a cardiotachometer, and HS was calculated on nonexercise days using the established technique. Maximum cardiac output and SVmax were calculated from the Fick equation and HRmax. Backward stepwise regression analysis was used to relate pre- and post exercise echocardiographic measurements and HS to V̇o2, Q̇, and SV at the time of measurement, and to V̇o2max, Q̇max, and SVmax. Pre- and post exercise LVDD appeared to be the most important variable in these equations. Mean pre-exercise HR at the time of measurement was 54.7 ± 1.9 beats/min, while the mean post exercise rate was 111.7 ± 2.6 beats/min. The mean ± s.e. V̇o2max was 150.4 ± 13.2 ml/(kg.min). Heart score was not correlated with V̇o2max, Q̇max, or SVmax. There was no significant difference between pre- and post exercise measurements of LVD, IVSS, and LVFWS.