Fluticasone Propionate 2000 mcg/5mL + Albuterol Sulfate 360 mcg/5mL, Oral Suspension, 500mL
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Heaves is a chronic, non-infectious airway condition affecting horses. It is also called recurrent airway obstruction, or RAO. This condition usually occurs in horses more than 6 years of age.1 Other common names used to describe airway conditions form which horses suffer include inflammatory airway disease (IAD), chronic bronchitis, allergic airway disease and small airway disease. This collection of inflammatory airway conditions was formerly referenced as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, not to be confused with COPD in humans, which is usually of differing etiology.
All of the above conditions are included under the definition of “equine asthma.”2 Horses with any of these conditions have airway inflammation that gives rise to recognizable signs ranging from decreased performance to a cough, nasal discharge or marked respiratory distress.1 A horse that stands in its stall with nostrils flaring and sides heaving and desperately trying to get air is almost certainly suffering from equine asthma, or heaves.
More often than not, heaves or equine asthma are the result of an allergic reaction to inhaled particles related to the environmental conditions in which horses are regularly kept. These are nearly always environments with a high level of particulate (dust). Once these dust particles are inhaled, an allergic reaction arises in the horse, which causes the small airways in the lung tissue to become narrowed and eventually obstructed.1,2
Equine Asthma: Clinical Signs
One of the first clinical signs of this syndrome is an occasional cough. As the condition progresses, the symptoms become more pronounced and will include an intolerance to exercise, an increased respiratory rate, wheezing and flaring of the nostrils and nasal discharge. The horse will have to work harder to breathe due to the obstruction of the small airways. This causes the horse to use its abdominal muscles more vigorously while breathing, resulting in the visible enlargement of these muscles and the formation of the characteristic “heave line.”1 Even mild cases of heaves tend to be easier to identify in performance horses (Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses or barrel racers) due to their increased demand for oxygen.
While asthma is often as thought of as a condition stemming from allergies in humans, very often, horses with heaves have no signs of allergies. Instead, IAD in these horses is similar to what is called occupational asthma.2 As stated above, the poor air quality, agricultural environments and farms that horses, humans and other creatures share are often replete with organic dust and other particulates that can cause profound irritation to the airways of even non-allergic humans and horses. It should be noted that in some of the available literature IAD is differentiated from heaves, with the latter reported as having an allergic component.1,2
Albuterol Sulfate for Horses
Albuterol sulfate is a beta-adrenergic agonist that is used primarily as a bronchodilator in veterinary medicine. It is “a sympathomimetic drug that preferentially stimulates beta-2-adrenergic receptors found primarily in vascular smooth muscle (including bronchial, GI, and uterine tissues) to cause relaxation of bronchial smooth muscle, reduced airway resistance, vasodilation, and tocolysis, as well as to inhibit the release of bronchoconstrictive mediators from mast cells. At recommended doses, albuterol spares the beta-1 receptor found primarily in the heart, thus lowering the likelihood of cardiac adverse effects.”4 In horses, albuterol produces bronchodilation for approximately 30 to 60 minutes. It can also be used to improve hypoxemia in horses under general anesthesia.
Most adverse effects of albuterol are dose-related and are consistent with other sympathomimetic agents, including increased heart rate, tremors, CNS excitement (ie, nervousness), and dizziness. These effects are generally transient and mild and usually do not require discontinuation of therapy.
Where to buy Fluticasone Propionate + Albuterol Sulfate
Fluticasone Propionate + Albuterol Sulfate is available in the U.S. through several pharmaceutical manufacturers and through veterinary custom compounding companies.
This product carries several potential drug interactions. Please consult your veterinarian prior to beginning any treatment regimen.
FOR RX ONLY: A valid prescription from a licensed veterinarian is required for dispensing this medication.
3Dauvillier J., et. al. Effect of long-term fluticasone treatment on immune function in horses with heaves. J Vet Intern Med. 2011 May-Jun; 25(3):549-57.