Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (Bleeding)
Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage, or “bleeding” in horses, is a health problem that occurs in horses that work hard during activities such as:
- Steeple chasing
- Road and track
- Stadium jumping
- Barrel racing
- Endurance racing
Some studies report that horses bleed even when doing mild exercise such as trotting on a treadmill.
Many people believe that if a horse doesn’t show blood at the nostrils it’s not bleeding. Typically, bleeding is a silent injury that can go undetected by trainers and riders because it occurs deep in the lungs and is best detected by lung washes or endoscopy. In addition, blood in the airways has been shown to be an irritant that leads to further bleeding.
Reducing bleeding not only helps a horse perform better in the short term, but may also help in the long term by reducing the possibility of inflammatory airway disease and chronic lung damage due to repeated bleeding.
The first breakthrough in understanding the role of FLAIR® Strips in reducing EIPH was by a research team at Kansas State University, which included Dr. David Marlin, formerly of the Animal Health Trust, Newmarket, England; and led by Drs. Howard Erickson and David Poole.
In 1999, the Kansas State group published the first data from studies of FLAIR Strip on exercising Thoroughbreds. The data showed that horses affected by EIPH that wore a nasal strip had fewer blood cells in their airways after exercise when compared to the same horses not wearing the strip.
This group was the first to show that bleeding could be reduced by normalizing airflow with a nasal strip. The benefits of FLAIR Strips during training are now well known. Read more.
Erickson’s team subsequently showed similar protective effects when horses were treated with the injectable drug, furosemide. However, rather than normalizing airflow, furosemide is a potent diuretic that works by reducing blood volume and pulmonary vascular pressures. Unfortunately, the drug reduces blood volume by increasing urine production, which consequently reduces fluid in the tissues and organs of the body. Side effects of furosemide use include dehydration, weight loss, and electrolyte loss, particularly potassium.
Read more about the Benefits of Using FLAIR Nasal Strips in Training Racehorses.
Read more about the treatment for EIPH in racehorses.