Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Cardiac (Heart) Valvular Disease

Synonyms: Aortic Insufficiency, Mitral Valve Insufficiency

Disease of the heart valves is very common in older horses and is usually detected as a heart murmur by a veterinarian. In most cases, leaky valves do not cause significant heart disease. Depending upon the specific diagnosis this condition may or may not worsen.

However, in severe cases congestive heart failure may result from backflow into the heart and overload of its function. The most common valves affected are the left atrio-ventricular valve (Mitral valve) and the aortic valves.

Diagnosis is primarily through echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart). In many cases, a veterinary cardiologist (board certified) can give the most complete diagnostic and prognostic information on heart conditions.

Treatment is usually not practical, although heart drugs may lessen the effects of heart failure in severe cases.

Prognosis & Relevant Factors

Fair to good for most conditions. However, you may talk to your vet about changing your expectations, as it may be unsafe to ride the horse.

Helpful Outside ResourcesCredible Equine Health Information on the Internet

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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