Training Time, Season, Gender May Play Role In EIPH For Steeplechasers

A study completed by the Royal Veterinary College has shown that the amount of training steeplechase horses undergo significantly increases the chance of them suffering from exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH). EIPH is most frequently seen in Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses, and can cause significant performance issues.

The exact cause of the condition is unknown, though some believe it’s a result of pulmonary capillary stress failure. This occurs when the blood-gas barrier in the alveoli is broken during intense exercise.

Drs. Tegan McGilvray and Jacqueline Cardwell used 177 racehorses in the British National Hunt to test for the prevalence of EIPH using a tracheobronchoscopy and a tracheal wash. In addition to blood, the researchers tested for the presence of hemosiderophages, which are cells that indicate previous lung bleeding.

Tracheal blood was found in 26 percent of the horses, hemosiderophages in 94 percent of the horses) and “significant” hemosiderophages in 78 percent of the horses.

The team drew these conclusions:

  • Each year in training increased the chances of tracheal blood and the presence of hemosiderophages by 1.5 percent.
  • Male horses had 85 percent less of a chance of bleeding than female horses
  • Tracheal blood was twice as likely to be see in winter and spring than in the fall
  • Horses with significant hemosiderophages were five times more likely to tracheal blood
  • Horses completing high-impact work were 60 times more likely to have tracheal blood

The researchers’ findings support the capillary stress failure theory. Increased time in training causes “cumulative remodeling of the pulmonary vasculature, increasing susceptibility to EIPH through capillary stress failure with ongoing training.”

They note that EIPH may not be avoidable, but identifying horses at risk of the condition will be helpful in determining preventative measures in the future.

Read the article here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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