World’s First Permanent Fix For Fluttering Equine Heart

A Norwegian showjumping stallion was successfully treated by the Equine Cardioteam at Ghent University for a cardiac arrhythmia. The team used ablation after multiple treatments by electroshock therapy failed to correct the problem.

Mapping of the heart’s electrical activity via cardiac ultrasound determined the spot where the arrhythmia was located. Professor van Loon then destroyed the tissue using heat (ablation), which restored the horse’s normal heart rhythm. Both the mapping and the ablation of tissue have never been done in horses with arrhythmias.

Arrhythmias in equines are concerning as they can affect performance and may put the horse at risk for sudden collapse and death. Drugs and pacemakers are options for horses with arrhythmias, and Ghent University has been using electroshock since 2001. Arrhythmias may reoccur with electroshock therapy.

Ablation, which destroys the electrically unstable cells, reduces the risk for arrhythmia recurrence. The stallion’s heart rhythm immediately returned to normal upon ablation. The horse shows full recovery and is expected to return to competition.


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