THIS BARREL HORSE was lethargic, nasal discharge, temperature, shallow respiration… find out why!






Here is an important find from Idaho Equine hospital.  I love these guys!  They post important medical discoveries on their FB page.

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Precious is a Quarter Horse mare used competitively for barrel racing. Following a weekend of travel and competing Precious was found to be very lethargic, laying down, and not wanting to eat. She had a fever of 102.1 and yellow nasal discharge out of both nostrils. On evaluation at the hospital, in addition to the fever, depression, and nasal discharge she was coughing and had short shallow respiration and harsh lung sounds. When listening to her heart she was found to have a markedly elevated heart rate of over 160 beats per minute (normal range 28-40bpm). She had bounding jugular pulses all the way up her neck and poor pulse quality. Dr. Higgins used an ultrasound of her chest to identify significant bronchopneumonia. An EKG of her heart rhythm showed uniform ventricular tachycardia (V tach), meaning that the rate of her heart was being triggered by an area in the ventricles of her heart, rather than the SA node in the left atrium where it is usually set. Ultrasound of the heart by Dr. Higgins showed very inflamed heart muscle with thickening of the heart walls and septum, very rapid heart contraction with poor filling of the heart chambers, and an enlarged left atrium due to a backup of blood not being able to be sent efficiently through the heart due to the very fast rate of contraction. A blood test was sent off to measure her cardiac troponin, which is a marker of cardiac muscle damage. Precious’s value was showing severe cardiac muscle inflammation and injury. Samples from her lungs grew several different bacteria. Inflammation and toxins produced by the bacteria causing her pneumonia were causing the extreme inflammation of her heart muscle, making abnormal areas of the heart muscle fire. Precious was also found to have low Vitamin E levels. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, and low levels could have contributed to her susceptibility to the heart muscle inflammation.
Precious was started on aggressive IV antibiotics to fight the pneumonia and Vitamin E therapy for the deficiency. She was also treated with steroids to help calm the heart muscle inflammation. Conversion of her abnormal heart rate was attempted with lidocaine infusions. Unfortunately, Precious’s heart muscle was unresponsive to this first line of defense used to treat V tach. The owner was on board to try a more aggressive medication to try to convert Precious’s heart, with the understanding that there were increased risk with the treatment. However, if we did not get her heart rhythm converted there would be progressive life-threatening issues, since the heart was not adequately pumping oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. Without converting her heart to a normal rhythm there would also likely be further dilation of the heart chambers and progressive congestive heart failure. Dr. Higgins used a drug called procainamide at a slow constant IV infusion while constantly monitoring her heart rhythm with an EKG. Fortunately, just before reaching the maximum possible dose, Precious’s heart rhythm converted back to being triggered from the atrium, rather than from the unhealthy ventricular region. Her heart rate continued to be elevated, but dropped into a safer range of around 60-70bpm. Within minutes of conversion Precious’s bounding jugular pulses dropped. She had a look of relief come over her and she walked over and immediately started eating. Something she had been uninterested in for several days.
Over the next several days her heart rate slowly decreased and she was stable enough to go home. She was treated with an additional month of antibiotics, antioxidants, and steroids along with rest to allow the heart muscle to recover. With further time, treatment, and rest her heart rate has returned completely to normal with a normal rhythm. She has been started back into work gradually and have hopes for her to return to barrel racing in the coming months.
*Case posted with permission from owner*

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