• Open Access

Recommendations for Management of Equine Athletes with Cardiovascular Abnormalities


  • Consensus Statements of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and European College of Equine Internal Medicine (ECEIM) provide the veterinary community with up-to-date information on the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of clinically important animal diseases. The ACVIM Board of Regents oversees selection of relevant topics, identification of panel members with the expertise to draft the statements, and other aspects of assuring the integrity of the process. The statements are derived from evidence-based medicine whenever possible and the panel offers interpretive comments when such evidence is inadequate or contradictory. A draft is prepared by the panel, followed by solicitation of input by the ACVIM membership which may be incorporated into the statement. It is then submitted to the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, where it is edited prior to publication. The authors are solely responsible for the content of the statements.


Murmurs and arrhythmias are commonly detected in equine athletes. Assessing the relevance of these cardiovascular abnormalities in the performance horse can be challenging. Determining the impact of a cardiovascular disorder on performance, life expectancy, horse and rider or driver safety relative to the owner's future expectations is paramount. A comprehensive assessment of the cardiovascular abnormality detected is essential to determine its severity and achieve these aims. This consensus statement presents a general approach to the assessment of cardiovascular abnormalities, followed by a discussion of the common murmurs and arrhythmias. The description, diagnosis, evaluation, and prognosis are considered for each cardiovascular abnormality. The recommendations presented herein are based on available literature and a consensus of the panelists. While the majority of horses with cardiovascular abnormalities have a useful performance life, periodic reexaminations are indicated for those with clinically relevant cardiovascular disease. Horses with pulmonary hypertension, CHF, or complex ventricular arrhythmias should not be ridden or driven.