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DISEASES OF THE HEART.
Diseases of the heart are best distinguished from pul
monary diseases, with which they are often confounded,
by auscultation. The heart’s beats may be felt, heard, and
counted, in either health or disease, and can therefore be
contrasted. The contrast between the action of a healthy
and a diseased heart should be carefully studied. Apply
the flat of the hand or the ear to the left side, just be
hind the elbow. The stethoscope (a hollow or perforated
piece of wood) may also be used. In health two succes
sive sounds, followed by an interval of silence, are heard.
Exercise and agitation increase the heart’s action.
Fig. 27. A horse with Heart Disease.
Persistent coldness of the extremities, swelling of the
legs, chest, and abdomen, fainting fits, dizziness, languor,
difficult breathing, especially after severe exertion, are
more or less constant symptoms of heart disease.
Disease of the heart is either the result of functional
disturbance or structural alteration. Disease of the heart
and its membranes may be either acute or chronic.
DISEASES OF THE HEART. 129
INFLAMMATION OF THE PERICARDIUM
The pericardium is the watery, membranous bag that
contains the heart. Pericarditis may be the result of cold,
exposure, or fatigue, but it is oftener the result of rheu
matic fever, strangles, influenza, purpura, blood contam
inations, diseases of the lungs, pleura, and heart itself,
cancer, parasitic growths, wounds, &c.
The disease, says Percivall, usually follows or is secon
dary to pleurisy. The effusions of water and lymph pe
culiar to pleurisy are often found within the pericardium,
“as though one membrane had sympathized with the
other.” The lymph is mostly disposed in layers on the
internal surface of the sac and the exterior of the heart
to such a degree as to cause adhesion between the two.
It is of an albuminous character. In time, when lining
the pericardium, it becomes firm, thin, and white. In a
recorded case it was of the nature of cartilage, and about
an eighth of an inch in thickness.
The symptoms of pericarditis are exceedingly variable.
Remedy.—Cautious bleeding, followed by small doses
of aconite, is serviceable in acute independent cases, but
is unsuitable in second stages or in epizootic attacks.
Morphine hypodermically usually relieves acute pain.
Woolen cloths wrung out of hot water to chest for an
hour or two at a time. Soap liniment, 1-20th part opium
tincture, rubbed in freely between fomentations. Sodium
bicarbonate and sulphate in drinking water relieve fever
and maintain action of bowels. Digitalis may be used
carefully when heart action is feeble and rapid. In more
advanced stage, and when fluid is. effused, supporting
treatment needful. Moderate doses of stimulants; potas
sium or ferrous iodide, with mustard or cantharides to
chest. Digitalis and strychnine assist absorption of fluid
THE DISEASES OF THE HORSE.
by raising blood pressure in kidney arteries and promoting
Where dropsy of the pericardium (hydrops pericardi),
persists, remove fluid by special trocar. This is sometimes
described as a distinct disease.
For doses, see pages 13 to 29.
PALPITATION OF THE HEART
Is usually tumultuous and rapid action. Sometimes
there is a peculiar sound and irregular heart and arterial
pulsations. Sometimes the heart action seems completely
confused, and sometimes there is intermittency. The
palpitation may be continuous or only at intervals.
The causes of palpitation may be too much blood, blood
contamination, poverty of blood, &c. Nervous and ex
citable temperament, debility, exhaustion, and youth are
said to be predisposing causes.
Remedy.—Rest, quiet, generous diet. Iron tonics for
anæmic murmurs (a sound caused by deficiency of blood).
Small doses of aconite for violent action. Digitalis for
weak and irregular action. Bromides for irregular and
fluttering action. Laxatives for digestive derangement.
Belladonna for strain or overexertion. Strychnine is a
heart tonic. (For a list of heart and other tonics, see
Where there is fainting or loss of sensation and motion,
dash cold water over the head ; ammonia to nostrils. If
the condition results from loss of blood, transfuse blood
from a healthy and vigorous horse.
For doses, see pages 13 to 29.
OTHER HEART DISEASES.
There are other heart diseases, such as inflammation of
both the membrane and substance of the heart (endocard
itis and carditis) ; both enlargement and wasting of the
heart ; fatty changes in the heart ; rupture of the heart,
RARE DISEASES OF THE HEART. 131
and also the pericardium ; adventitious growths in connec
tion with the heart, such as parasitic and malignant, fibroid
and vascular tumors ; disease of the valves and orifices ;
ossification (rare) ; air in the heart ; enlargement of the
The symptoms of most of these affections — many of
which are rare—are puzzling even to veterinarians.
Where heart disease is suspected, avoid overwork and
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