Endurance exercise is associated with increased plasma cardiac troponin I in horses

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SummaryReason for performing study:Information is lacking regarding the influence of long distance exercise on the systemic concentration of cardiac troponin I (cTnI) in horses.Objectives:To determine if the concentration of cTnI in horses competing in 80 and 160 km endurance races increases with exercise duration and if cTnI concentrations can be correlated with performance data.Methods:Blood samples for the measurement of cTnI and 3 min electrocardiogram recordings were obtained from horses prior to, during and after completion of 80 and 160 km endurance races at 3 ride sites during the 2004 and 2005 American Endurance Ride Conference competition seasons.Results:Full data sets were obtained from 100 of the 118 horses. Endurance exercise was associated with a significant increase in cTnI over baseline in both distance groups. Failure to finish competition (poor performance) was also associated with an increased cTnI concentration over baseline at the time of elimination when data from both distances were combined. Other than one horse that developed paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, no arrhythmias were noted on the 3 minute ECG recordings that were obtained after endurance exercise in either distance group.Conclusions:Systemic concentrations of cTnI increase in endurance horses competing in both 80 and 160 km distances. Although final cTnI concentrations were significantly increased over their baseline values in horses that failed to finish competition, the degree of increase was not greater than the increase over baseline seen in the horses that successfully completed competition. The clinical significance of increased cTnI in exercising horses could not be ascertained from the results of this study.Potential relevance:These data indicate that cardiac stress may occur in horses associated with endurance exercise. Future studies utilising echocardiograpy to assess cardiac function in horses with increased cTnI are warranted.

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