Aortic rupture

Attention! This is a potentially life-threatening condition for your horse. Time is of the essence, contact your veterinarian immediately.Find a Vet

Aortic Rupture

Thoracic Aortic Rupture, Aortic Root Rupture, Aortopulmonary Fistulation

Aortic rupture is a rare, life threatening condition that occurs mainly in Friesian horses. In Friesians, the rupture will usually occur at the aortic arch near the ligamentum arteriosum, and will result in an aortopulmonary fistula.

Depending on the severity of the rupture, horses may be found dead or depending on the type of rupture, the horse might survive for a variable number of years but usually less than 5 years.


Sudden death
Increased rectal temperature
Pale mucous membranes
Increased heart rate
Bounding arterial pulse
Increased jugular pulse


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Echocardiographic



Supportive care


Poor for life, and if survives initially, will always be at risk of sudden death.

Scientific Research

General Overviews

Risk Factors

  • Male horses, primarily stallions over 10 years of age, are most frequently at risk for this condition.