6.8 Pericardial disease
Congenital pericardial disease is exceptionally rare in horses. Acquired peridisease is a very uncommon problem in this species, but is an important cause of cardiac disease because it can be difficult to diagnose and treat. It can be a life-threatening condition, although in some cases it may be asymptomatic. The more widespread use of echocardiography may result in the identification of pericardial disease when it would previously have gone unrecognised.
Pericardial disease usually results from inflammation of the pericardial sac around the heart, i.e. pericarditis. The condition is divided into two forms effusive and constrictive. In effusive pericarditis, a transudate, modified transuexudate or blood fill the pericardium and may compress the low-pressure right side of the heart, leading to poor venous return (tamponade). In constrictive pericarditis, the pericardium loses its elasticity and restricts filling of the venIn practice, the two conditions may be present in the same animal to varying degrees.
6.8.1 Pericardial effusions
6.8.2 Constrictive pericarditis