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Exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage: where are we now?

Authors Poole DC, Erickson HH

Received 23 August 2016

Accepted for publication 19 September 2016

Published 7 November 2016 Volume 2016:7 Pages 133—148


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Young Lyoo

David C Poole,1,2 Howard H Erickson1

1Department of Anatomy and Physiology, 2Department of Kinesiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA

Abstract: As the Thoroughbreds race for the final stretch, 44 hooves flash and thunder creating a cacophony of tortured air and turf. Orchestrated by selective breeding for physiology and biomechanics, expressed as speed, the millennia-old symphony of man and beast reaches its climax. At nearly 73 kilometers per hour (45 mph) over half a ton of flesh and bone dwarfs its limpet-like jockey as, eyes wild and nostrils flaring, their necks stretch for glory. Beneath each resplendent livery-adorned, latherin-splattered coat hides a monstrous heart trilling at 4 beats per second, and each minute, driving over 400 L (105 gallons) of oxygen-rich blood from lungs to muscles. Matching breath to stride frequency, those lungs will inhale 16 L (4 gallons) of air each stride moving >1,000 L/min in and out of each nostril – and yet failing. Engorged with blood and stretched to breaking point, those lungs can no longer redden the arterial blood but leave it dusky and cyanotic. Their exquisitely thin blood–gas barrier, a mere 10.5 μm thick (1/50,000 of an inch), ruptures, and red cells invade the lungs. After the race is won and lost, long after the frenetic crowd has quieted and gone, that blood will clog and inflame the airways. For a few horses, those who bleed extensively, it will overflow their lungs and spray from their nostrils incarnadining the walls of their stall: a horrifically poignant canvas that strikes at horse racing’s very core. That exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) occurs is a medical and physiological reality. That every reasonable exigency is not taken to reduce/prevent it would be a travesty. This review is not intended to provide an exhaustive coverage of EIPH for which the reader is referred to recent reviews, rather, after a brief reminder of its physiologic and pathologic bases, focus is brought on the latest developments in EIPH discovery as this informs state-of-the-art knowledge, the implementation of that knowledge and recommendations for future research and treatment.

epistaxis, Thoroughbred racehorse, pulmonary capillary rupture, vascular pressure, alveolar pressure, nasal airway collapse

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