Groundbreaking WA research into the causes of bleeding attacks is set to continue with the financial support of Racing and Wagering WA.

A Murdoch University study on exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage (EIPH) featured the scoping of more than 900 thoroughbreds post-race at Ascot and Belmont Park over a 12-month period.

EIPH, also known as bleeding or a bleeding attack, occurs when blood vessels rupture into the lungs during strenuous exercise.

In Australia, the appearance of blood at both nostrils for the first time as a result of EIPH leads to a three-month ban from racing.

A lifetime ban applies to a horse that has bled from both nostrils twice and severe cases can be fatal.

Although EIPH is common, previous research has not provided a clear understanding of the triggers of bleeding attacks.

Veterinarian Ellie Crispe, who performed the scoping in the initial phase of the study, hopes the research will improve the racing industry's understanding and management of the issue.

"Our main findings in the first phase of the study were that lower temperatures and longer race distances were associated with an increased risk of EIPH," Crispe said.

"It is possible that colder air may trigger increased airway inflammation predisposing to an increased level of blood in the trachea. Another association was identified between non-standard shoes and EIPH.

"The non-standard shoe issue is an extremely novel finding and we need to determine if this finding is sustained in continued studies.

"We don't quite understand the mechanism behind them causing it and it's something we need to keep looking into."

The initial research will be presented to an international conference in June.

The West Australian

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