Sudden deaths of horses in multiple equestrian disciplines have been attributed to acute and chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The aim of this study was to perform a review of aortic rupture in horses analyzing, case studies and assessing risk factors. The literature has reported a total of 137 cases of aortic rupture in horses for 28 years (1986-2014), with approximately five horses dying of aortic rupture per year. Histopathologically, there are observed discrete macroscopic degenerative changes in the intima layer only in the aorta. The histological evaluation in the beginning portion of the aorta of the heart evidenced degenerative changes with loss of continuity and distribution of elastic fibers. Risk factors for the rupture of the aorta are: spontaneous rupture associated with hypertension, preexisting vascular injury (aneurysm), dilated or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, copper levels in the endothelium, genetic factors such as inbreeding, toxicology or pharmacological factors. Aortic rupture shows similarity with pulmonary hemorrhage induced by exercise especially under the locomotors induced trauma theory of exercise that can induce pulmonary hemorrhage. In conclusion, degenerative changes to discrete elastic fiber of the intima of the aorta in the emergence of the heart seem to predispose the aorta wall rupture at the time of maximum blood pressure during exercise and the consequent collapse and athletic horse’s death.

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Briceño, A. M., Mendez, A., Brewer, K., Hughes, C., & Tobin, T. (2015). Sudden death, aortic rupture in horses, literature review, case studies reported and risk factors. Brazilian Journal of Veterinary Research and Animal Science, 52(4), 298-309. https://doi.org/10.11606/issn.1678-4456.v52i4p298-309

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