Heart-Rate Variability May Indicate Outcome Of Colic Cases

Colic, a catch-all term for abdominal pain in horses, can be caused by a variety of reasons; it can be a life-or-death situation and requires immediate veterinary care. Colic is stressful for horses; horses that are actively colicking have an increased cortisol level and heart rate.  A new study shows that heart-rate variability may be a key indicator in assessing the possible outcome of colic cases.

Drs. Heidrun Gehlen, Maria-Dorothee Faust, Remigiusz Grzeskowiak and Dagmar Trachsel of the Free University in Berlin, and Dr. Remigiusz Grzeskowiak of the University of Tennessee wanted to determine if horses showed varying stress levels with different types of colic, therefore warranting different treatment strategies.

The team used 43 horses admitted to two different equine hospitals for colic and categorized them into three groups: surgical, conservative (non-surgical) and euthanized. The scientists studied the blood tests and heart-rate variability of the horses at admission, 24 hours after admission and at discharge.

The team found that heart rate and cortisol levels decreased the day after admission and on the day of discharge in both the surgical and non-surgical groups of horses, indicating that they were not as stressed as they were during their intake into the hospital.

However, decreases in heart rate and cortisol levels were not seen in the horses that were ultimately euthanized. The difference in heart rate in the euthanized and non-euthanized horses was most obvious the day after admission.

The team concluded that heart-rate variability can offer treating veterinarians important information on the stress level of colicking horses and may be helpful in assessing the possible outcome. They suggest further studies be completed.

Read the full study here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

The post Heart-Rate Variability May Indicate Outcome Of Colic Cases appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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