The first postgraduate research project will be led by University of Adelaide’s Dr Laura Nath, who look at risk factors for exercise induced arrhythmias in Thoroughbreds, as part of a larger project Detection of cardiac inflammation and fibrosis in Thoroughbred racehorses.
Racing jurisdictions worldwide fund post-mortem examination of horses that die during racing. Dr Nath’s project will use advanced histopathological methods to investigate the presence of fibrosis and inflammation in cardiac tissue of three specific groups of Thoroughbreds that have died in racing or training;
1. Thoroughbreds that have died due to suspected sudden cardiac death
2. Thoroughbreds euthanased after injury during racing
3. age matched untrained horses.
AgriFutures Australia Program Manager Research & Innovation, Ashley Radburn said the research is a vital step to address challenges and opportunities in an industry that is worth approximately $5 billion/annum to the Australian economy, and employs more than 65,000 people, particularly in rural and regional areas.
“Cardiac arrhythmias are a serious cause of collapse and sudden death in racehorses, and a serious welfare concern for horses and their riders, as riders are almost always injured when a horse collapses on the track. Through this research we hope to ascertain the mechanisms contributing to exercise-induced arrhythmias in horses, which may assist in the development of strategies to reduce the incidence of arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death,” said Mr Radburn.