Merck Manual

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Pet Owner Version

Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease in Horses


Suzanne M. Cunningham

, DVM, DACVIM-Cardiology, Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University;

Kursten V. Roderick

, DVM, Tufts University

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2019 | Modified Oct 2022

Treatment of cardiovascular disease should be specific for the type of disease. Some defects can be repaired or corrected with surgery, while other conditions can be managed with medical therapy using one or a combination of drugs. In general, the goals of treatment are to minimize damage to the heart muscle, control the accumulation of fluids in the lungs, improve circulation, regulate the heart rate and rhythm, ensure that there is enough oxygen in the blood, and minimize the risk of blood clot formation. Ultimately, these goals are achieved when treatments resolve the signs of disease, the heart and breathing rates are normal at rest, and the horse has a good quality of life.

Common Types of Drugs for Cardiovascular Disease in Horses

There are many medications that a veterinarian can prescribe to treat cardiovascular disease and heart failure. The type of disorder will determine the type of medication prescribed. Medications must be given directly as prescribed; otherwise, they may not be effective and may even cause serious complications and harm.

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