Atrial fibrillation in two healthy Chianina cows

  • Domenico Caivano Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Perugia
  • Maria Cicogna
  • Rocco Pisano
  • Francesco Mosconi
  • Piero Boni
Keywords: Arrhythmias, cattle, electrocardiogram, heart


Atrial fibrillation is a cardiac arrhythmia which frequently occurs in human and veterinary medicine. This arrhythmia has been reported in cattle and it is commonly recorded in animals affected by underlying cardiac diseases or in association with gastrointestinal disease, abdominal pain, metabolic diseases and electrolyte disturbances. Idiopathic atrial fibrillation has been also described in apparently healthy Holstein dairy cows with an incidence of 2.5%. The aim of this report is to describe for the first time the presence of primary and persistent atrial fibrillation in two Chianina cows without underlying diseases detected using routine diagnostic tests. The cows, apparently healthy, were examined for a disturbance of the heart rhythm in a farm of central Italy. Electrocardiographic examination confirmed the presence of atrial fibrillation with ventricular response rate of 80 bpm in both cows. Transthoracic echocardiography showed no structural heart diseases; results of the hematological and serum biochemical profile were unremarkable. No increase in troponin I concentration was revealed. Both cows were rechecked in a period of 14 months and no changes were observed at the physical and electrocardiographic examination. Both cows delivered a healthy calf during this period without calving difficulties or health problems. Based on the history, clinical findings and outcome, atrial fibrillation in both cows was considered primary and persistent in absence of underlying diseases. Being the heart rate in normal limits during the period of observation, treatments were not recommended. Atrial fibrillation can occur in healthy Chianina cows with no apparent underlying diseases and without compromising the reproductive performance. Evaluation of arrhythmias in cows can be a diagnostic challenge for veterinarians because of not-practical use of standard electrocardiographic machines, cables, and electrodes in field. However, new portable devices can be more easily available in farm and they can provide useful information for the diagnosis and prognosis in affected cattle.