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Metabolic syndrome is a name applied to a collective group of risk factors that raise the risk of other health conditions. In humans, we see a rise in the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, vascular disorders, neurodegenerative conditions and many others. In horses, we generally see an increased risk for insulin resistance, Cushing's disease and laminitis. The term 'metabolic' actually implies an alteration in cellular metabolism or biochemical processes, but is often quickly associated with a state of increased body weight or obesity. The syndrome is actually complex, involving many pathways, but as with other conditions, with a more indepth understanding comes better management.
Metabolic syndrome in both people and horses is on the rise, not to mention companion pets. In the United States, the rates of obesity have doubled in the past 10 years, as have the increased incidence of associated medical conditions. The cause is complex and often attributed to hereditary factors, highly processed foods, overconsumption of fat calories and lack of exercise. In horses, the rise is similar with more metabolic patients being diagnosed every year, again often attributed to diet, low exercise levels and hereditary factors. In my equine consulting practice, metabolic syndrome plays a role in about 50% of cases, whether the owner is aware of the condition or not. Overall, the condition of metabolic syndrome is becoming more prevalent in both humans and animals.
In humans, it has been estimated that 25% of adults have metabolic syndrome to some degree, which increases the risk of developing diabetes by 5 times. It has also been estimated that 80% of all diabetics actually succumb to cardiovascular disease, which is a common consequence of metabolic syndrome. In humans, risk factors for developing metabolic syndrome include:
High blood pressure
High fasting blood glucose...
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