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J Vet Pharmacol Ther. 1998 Jun;21(3):228-40.

Review of furosemide in horse racing: its effects and regulation.

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University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Kennett Square 19348, USA.


Furosemide has been used empirically and has been legally approved for many years by the US racing industry for the control of exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage (EIPH) or bleeding. Its use in horses for this purpose is highly controversial and has been criticized by organizations outside and inside of the racing industry. This review concentrates on its renal and extra-renal actions and the possible relationship of these actions to the modification of EIPH and changes in performance of horses. The existing literature references suggest that furosemide has the potential of increasing performance in horses without significantly changing the bleeding status. The pulmonary capillary transmural pressure in the exercising horse is estimated to be over 100 mmHg. The pressure reduction produced by the administration of furosemide is not of sufficient magnitude to reduce transmural pressures within the capillaries to a level where pressures resulting in rupture of the capillaries, and thus haemorrhage, would be completely prevented. This is substantiated by clinical observations that the administration of furosemide to horses with EIPH may reduce haemorrhage but does not completely stop it. The unanswered question is whether the improvement of racing times which have been shown in a number of studies are due to the reduction in bleeding or to other actions of furosemide. This review also discusses the difficulties encountered in furosemide regulation, in view of its diuretic actions and potential for the reduction in the ability of forensic laboratories to detect drugs and medications administered to a horse within days or hours before a race. Interactions between nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and furosemide have also been examined, and the results suggest that the effects of prior administration of NSAID may partially mitigate the renal and extra-renal effects which may contribute to the effects of furosemide on EIPH.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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