University of Guelph researchers have discovered the cause of a regional spike in atrial fibrillation among Standardbred racehorses: specific bloodlines.
Admissions of Standardbred racehorses for atrial fibrillation to the Ontario Veterinary College Teaching Hospital began to rise in the early 1990s: there were 168 Standardbreds born between 1993 and 2007 that arrived at the vet clinic needing treatment for the condition, which causes poor blood flow and poor equine performance. Atrial fibrillation occurs when the upper two chambers of the heart beat rapidly and out of coordination with the lower two chambers.
Researchers found evidence through pedigree analysis that multiple stallions contributed significantly to the group of affected Standardbreds treated at the hospital. A number of the contributing sires were related and showed up multiple times in five-generation pedigrees.
Scientists determined 26 horses contributed to the arrhythmia marginally, with one sire family and one broodmare featured prominently. More work is needed to determine if avoidance of a specific bloodline can decrease arrhythmia in Standardbreds. Individual horses were not named in the published paper.
Read more at HorseTalk.
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