Veterinarians at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine have successfully treated a horse with an unusual atrial fibrillation. The patient, a 6-year-old thoroughbred named Moissanite was diagnosed with the arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke and heart failure.

Veterinarians Charlene Cook and Lauren Shamon with Central Georgia Equine Services, Fort Valley, Georgia discovered Moissanite’s problem during a routine dental treatment. They encouraged his owner, Katlynn Cross, to send him to Auburn.

Afib, atrial fibrillation, occurs in humans and large animals. A healthy heart should contract and relax creating a regular heartbeat or rhythm. AFib occurs when the upper chambers of the heart no longer contract so there is less pressure to circulate blood through the body.

Correcting the problem is risky but for Moissanite, a competitive jumper, treatment was necessary. The procedure occurred March 6, catheters were inserted into his heart through his neck. Veterinarians delivered an electrical impulse to reset his heartbeat. The procedure was completed successfully and Moissanite was discharged the following day.

“The veterinary group at Auburn is phenomenal,” Cross said. “I am a worrier, and this was a stressful event for me. The medical team kept me informed and calm throughout the entire process, and I am so happy with the outcome. My horse is acting normal and does not seem to have any adverse effects or complications.”

Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine is one of only a handful of veterinary schools that perform this procedure, Moissanite’s was actually their first case.

Test Your Knowledge

What is a normal resting heart beat for a fit, adult horse?

24-40 BPM (beats per minute)

Illustration Credit: Merck

What is the largest organ in a horse?

The Skin

Illustration Credit: Dixon Smith Equestrian