Saturday, January 28, 2017

Aortic Rupture

Aortic rupture has been in the discussion groups a lot recently. It's not that it's not in other breeds, but the Friesians have a unique location to where their heart failure takes place.
Here is an article about all breeds Aortic Rupture

The more specific information that applies to the Friesian is located on the Phryso article

There are currently no tests available to determine risk. Please see the article to learn about symptoms and diagnosis. As the name implies it's a very serious and fatal condition. ***Update, at Utrecht they have successfully used a small ultrasound scope passed through the esophagus near the heart to view the area of the heart that could potentially have the defect. The beauty of this is that it's non invasive and the horse doesn't have to be asleep!! I am not sure the availability of this technology in the US but calling around to major equine universities or clinics should get you some answers.

Also please note that there is a specific way to autopsy a Friesian to determine if they died of Aortic Ruptor so please contact Fenway Foundation.
Here is a Form that helps with some information from Fenway Foundation, if this link does not work please contact them directly FORM . They may have special instructions for you based on your horses symptoms so please work with them to help identify the source of the problem.

If you have had or know of a horse that died of Aortic rupture please share stories and information with us so that we can help other owners. Knowing their lineage will also help, but it is not yet determined that it's genetic. It could be fetal development or post birthing complications. Any information you have could help.

If links stop working please contact me and I can Email you a PDF

Research gate article A
Research gate article B

BMC Article



  1. Hi - I am looking at purchasing an 8 yo mare and wondering at what age the aortic rupture would most likely happen? seems like I see a lot of references to younger ages < 4 yo. Thanks!

  2. It can happen at any age. there is now a procedure where you can get the horse ultrasound scoped through the nasal cavity and see the heart valve. I don't know many places with that equipment. In all the purchases we did, If we could have, we would not have included that in our pre purchase exam unless there was an irregularity in the heart or symptoms that would concern us. And we probably would not have gone through with the purchase prior to spending that much money on diagnostics.

  3. My daughter's Friesian dropped dead yesterday, took about a minute for him to die. 15 minutes prior, he was playing with his ball. No signs of distress.

    1. I'm sorry for your loss. Did the autopsy confirm that it was Aortic rupture? And if yes could you share the bloodlines of this horse. Fenway Foundation has Autopsy instructions so that aortic rupture can be diagnosed if that was the cause of death.