Equine arrhythmias: innovations that improve diagnosis, horse welfare and rider’s safety

01 January 2017 → 30 September 2020
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Cardiology
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Veterinary internal medicine and pathophysiology
    • Veterinary medical imaging
    • Veterinary physiology, pathophysiology and biochemistry
electrocardiography horses arrhythmias
Project description

Sudden death during exercise occurs at a 10 times higher ratio in horses compared to human
athletes and is in 68% of the cases caused by fatal cardiac arrhythmias. Sudden death does not
only affect riders’ safety, but also the public opinion on the horse industry in general. Horses are
known to show benign arrhythmias, but the differentiation between benign and dangerous
arrhythmias is often difficult, though very important. Current equipment for arrhythmia detection
is expensive and can only be used by trained veterinarians (cardiac specialists) and even then,
techniques are not adapted to horses. The first purpose of this study is to develop a new device
that facilitate and improve the diagnosis of equine arrhythmias in the field. Hardware and
software will be developed that is affordable, easy to use and automatic so that it can be used by
every veterinarian but also by the horse owners themselves. These tools will allow daily
monitoring and thus help to prevent sudden death caused by cardiac arrhythmias. In addition, the
second purpose is to develop advanced techniques for more accurately determining the type of
arrhythmia and to get insight into normal and abnormal ventricular activation patterns and
electro-anatomy. Better detection of arrhythmias in the field and improved knowledge of the
underlying mechanisms are mandatory for risk reduction of sudden death and for further
development of targeted therapies.