Furosemide decreases bleeding in racehorses, study finds

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Jun 29, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
Johannesburg, South Africa -- Furosemide decreases bleeding in the airways of racehorses, according to a new study released today from the University of Pretoria, Colorado State University (CSU) and the University of Melbourne.

The study demonstrated that giving "furosemide before a race dramatically decreased the incidence and severity of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH). Horses were three to four times more likely to have evidence of bleeding without furosemide, and were seven to 11 times more likely to have severe bleeding without it," CSU reports in a statement. The blinded study involved 167 horses. Each ran in two races, one week apart, with each receiving furosemide before one race and saline solution before the other race. Endoscopy was performed 30 to 90 minutes after racing to detect blood in the animal's airways.

"The results of this study do not eliminate debate about the use of this medication in racehorses, but it does provide evidence needed to aid in making sound policy decisions," explains researcher Dr. Paul Morley of CSU's veterinary college. An estimated 90 percent of Thoroughbred racehorses are given furosemide prior to racing to control bleeding in the respiratory tract. Furosemide sales are estimated at $30 million each year.

The study was scheduled for publication in the July 1 issue of the JAVMA.