My OTTB, i was told when I got him, was diagnosed with a heart murmer. I never saw proof of this, but, i was just wondering- how does this affect the horse, and what do I do to keep him healthy and happy?
Really great info but I just wanted to clear up a few things for you guys. As MyBoyPuck already said, you should invest in a stethoscope (good to have to listen to the heart and the gut). To find the heart put your stethoscope behind the left front leg just above the point of the elbow and as close to the leg as you can get once you find the sound you can move the stethoscope around to hear the noise better. There will be 2 separate noises that both belong to one heart beat (lub/dub) but if there is a murmur it can be when the heart contracts (systolic) or when the heart relaxes (diastolic). If it is during contraction there will be a gush that connects the lub and the dub while if it is during relaxation it will be the lub/dub/gush that MyBoyPuck mentioned. If the gush sound is quieter than the lub/dub then it is a low grade murmur (probably a 2).My suggestion to you would be to buy a stethescope and try to find the murmer. Instead of the normal lub/dub sound, you'll hear lub/dub/gush.
An EKG (or ECG same thing) only measures the electrical activity of the heart so although it is a very useful tool for diagnosing rhythm problems that can arise due to a murmur it tells you nothing about the murmur itself. An echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart) is what can show you the degree to which a murmur might affect the horse. It shows you exactly what is happening inside the heart and with the fancy ones you can see the backflow of blood as a color change inside the chamber. An echo will also let you know why there is a murmur in the first place (could be thickened valves, stretched heart chambers, congenital deformations). Hope that explains things clearlyThe only way you can tell for sure how much he is affected is to get him an EKG. They cost about $350. For me it was piece of mind and money well spent. Don't worry too much about it. They are very common in OTTBs.
Actually makes perfect sense and your description is spot on!! It is called 2nd degree atrioventricular heart block (or AV block). So it is actually alot more complex than this but think of the lub as the top half of the heart contracting and the dub as the bottom of the heart contracting. So basically with 2nd degree av block, the top(atria) contract but the bottom(ventricles) do not. The reason he is still alive is because it only does this "skipped beat" every three or four beats and those missed beats will go away when his heart rate increases (so you can jog him to make his heart go back to normal beats). This problem usually doesn't bother them at all and is only due to the strong natural stimulation from the horses parasympathetic system.I ad a horse with a heart problem in the past. As myboypuck said about the lub/dub....my horse HAD no dub to follow the lub...if that makes any sense.