Table 6.7 Summary: Clinical evaluation of horses with pericardial disease


Variable signs noted by owners depending on the severity of the condition:


poor exercise tolerance

associated with systemic illness or thoracic disease, e.g. pleuro-pneumonia

right-sided congestive heart failure

Sudden onset or progressive over days

Clinical findings

Mucous membrane colour usually normal

CRT normal to slow

Arterial pulse normal to weak, apex beat may be weak

Pulse rate normal to rapid

+1- jugular distension

+1- quiet heart sounds

Weakness, lethargy

Evaluation of significance

Most likely to be significant if:

associated with poor athletic performance slow CRT

heart rate >45bpm

associated with signs of right-sided congestive heart failure

associated with other diseases such as pleuro-pneumonia bacterial, traumatic or neoplastic aetiology

Helpful diagnostic tests



Clinical pathology, especially examination of pericardial fluid