Journal of Equine Science
Online ISSN : 1347-7501
Print ISSN : 1340-3516
Review Article
History of research in Japan on electrocardiography in the racehorse
Atsushi HIRAGAShigeru SUGANO
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2015 Volume 26 Issue 1 Pages 1-13


Since the first recording of electrocardiograms (ECGs) of a horse in Japan was carried out in 1944, studies on ECGs have been performed intensively. During the early stages of research from the 1950s to 1960s, leads to use for ECG recording were evaluated using several different approaches including unipolar leads, bipolar limb leads, and bipolar chest leads. Based on these studies, the AB lead, which is oriented along the long axis of the heart, became the standard reference method in Japan. Electrodes of the AB lead are placed on the upper 1/4th point along a straight line between the withers and the left shoulder blade (base: B), and 10 cm posterior to the left olecranon (apex: A). The incidence of equine arrhythmias among racehorses has been surveyed, and details of the electrocardiographic characteristics of several arrhythmias have been investigated. In particular, atrial fibrillation (AF) has been extensively studied, and papers have reported findings such as that paroxysmal AF occurs during racing and described electrocardiographic changes that occur at the onset of AF during exercise. Development of a radiotelemetry system for ECG recording enabled the first recording of equine ECGs during galloping in 1964, the detection of arrhythmias, and calculation of heart rate during exercise. Studies on comparative and developmental changes of ECGs have described characteristics of the equine ECGs. Future research on changes in cardiac function, including autonomic function, that occur with aging may lead to new developments in equine electrocardiography and contribute to improving the health and welfare of the horse.

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