The Importance of Equine Health
With the Grand National around the corner, Randox Reagents have investigated the importance of equine health, focusing on racehorses.
Maintaining good health in racehorses is vital as proper management can reduce the incidence of many disease conditions. Racehorses are bred, raised, and trained to perform as athletes. Therefore, it is vital that the performance health of racehorses is continually assessed to ensure that they are physically fit, happy and healthy.
Racehorse’s have a busy life. They are broken in from 18 months of age, usually using traditional methods such as long reining, followed by accepting a rider and training alongside other horses. At 2 years of age, the real training begins which focuses on fitness and speed rather than ‘schooling’ the horse in the conventional way. This training is undertaken alongside another horse to teach the trainee horse how to race but at the same time, it is taught to settle and listen to the jockey.
In peak season, the horse’s weekly exercise regime consists of: two days of fast gallop work with steady trotting or cantering the rest of the week, with a rest day on Sunday’s (depending on races scheduled for the horse).
The most important bodily systems for top athletic performance in racehorses include:
Skeletal system (including bone, tendons and ligaments) problems such as torn or stretched ligaments or tendons or a broken bone will be very painful, inducing lameness and prohibiting performance
Muscles enable the horse to perform. Fatigued or damaged muscles will result in poor performance as the horse cannot generate enough energy and strength to maintain its high performance
Respiratory system (nasal passages, throat and lungs) problems prohibits the normal flow of oxygen through the body, which prohibits the energy required for exercise
Cardiovascular system (heart, blood vessels, volume of blood and red blood cells) problems prohibits the movement of oxygen from the lungs to the muscles, again prohibiting the generation of energy required for exercise.
Central nervous system (CNS) problems can result in the loss of coordination and the fine control that accompanies minor problems to the CNS can significantly prohibit exercise performance
Due to the intense training that racehorses undergo, it is vitally important that their health is continually assessed to diagnose and treat injuries and the jockey allows the horse time to recover from the injury. The most common sites of injury include: forelegs, back and pelvis such as bowed tendon (tendonitis), strained suspensory ligaments, splints, osselets, sesamoid fractures, condylar fractures, knee fractures, bone chips, bucked skins and pin firing. It is vitally important that racehorses are allowed time to rest and heal after an injury. Training or racing a horse whilst injured can be detrimental.
Randox Equine Panel
Randox offer 10 scientifically proven assays for equine health which are made from the same high-quality material as our human assays, providing accurate and precise results. These assays have extensive measuring ranges for the accurate detection of disease or inflammation which are suitable for use with serum, plasma and whole blood. Instrument specific applications (ISA’s) are available for an extensive range of biochemistry analysers suitable for use with manual, semi-automated and fully automated analysers.
The Randox range of assays, suitable for equine use, cover a range of biomarkers:
Adiponectin is used to assess equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) which is characterised by obesity, regional adiposity, insulin resistance, and susceptibility to laminitis. Laminitis is one of the most common causes of lameness in horses. It is a painful and potentially crippling condition, which in severe cases usually results in the horse being humanely euthanised.
Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) levels directly correlate with the severity of muscle inflammation or damage, or liver damage. The highest levels of AST will be seen around 24hours after muscle injury and persist for 2-3 weeks.
CK-NAC is a sensitive marker for the detection of musculoskeletal diseases; and is useful to assess the extent of severe muscle trauma, crush injuries, and burns and the likelihood of developing rhabdomyolysis.
#LoveYourLiver this January. This month, we are taking a closer look at Liver Cirrhosis.
Liver cirrhosis occurs when the healthy tissue of the liver is replaced with scar tissue (fibrosis) due to long-term liver damage. Liver cirrhosis can result in liver failure which can be fatal.
Liver complications such as liver disease and cirrhosis can be detrimental if it is not treated or monitored. Liver disease is the only major cause of death still increasing year-on-year. Globally, deaths due to liver cirrhosis have increased from 676,000 in 1980 to over 1 million in 2010 (NCBI, 2014). Cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases have increased by 12.4% from 2006-2016 and was the cause of 1,256,900 deaths in 2016 (Global Burden of Disease, 2016).
There are a few factors that increase the risk of liver cirrhosis. The three main factors are heavy alcohol consumption, an undiagnosed hepatitis infection, particularly hepatitis C, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (a more severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) due to obesity.
There are numerous symptoms associated with liver cirrhosis. Some of the more severe symptoms include:
- Jaundice – yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes
- Personality changes, confusion, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, or hallucinations
- A tendency to bleed or bruise easily
- In women, abnormal periods
- In men, enlarged breasts, a swollen scrotum (the loose sac of skin that contains the testicles) or shrunken testicles
- Stomach pain – swollen or bloated stomach
Liver cirrhosis cannot be cured, but the aim of treatment is to manage the symptoms and complications, and to stop the condition getting worse.
#LoveYourLiver and prevent or reduce the symptoms of liver cirrhosis through: moderating alcohol consumption, not sharing needles to inject drugs, using a condom during sex, taking medications as prescribed, and maintaining a healthy weight.
The early stages of liver cirrhosis usually does not present any symptoms and is often first detected using routine blood tests. Liver cirrhosis can be diagnosed and monitored through the following routine blood tests:
Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)
ALT is one of the enzymes within the aminotransferases group and are among the most sensitive liver enzymes. The normal concentration levels of ALT in the blood are low, however, when the liver is damaged, such as liver cirrhosis, the levels of ALT increase. During the diagnosis of liver cirrhosis, the root cause of the damage can be established, such as disease, drug or injury. ALT is commonly measured alongside AST as part of the hepatic panel.
Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST)
AST is an enzyme found throughout the body. Elevated concentration levels of AST in the blood is directly correlated to the severity of the tissue damage. AST also allows for the root cause of the damage to be diagnosed. Excessive levels are indicative of damage due to acetaminophen overdose or acute viral hepatitis. Moderately high levels are indicative of alcohol abuse. Slightly high levels are indicative of cirrhosis.
AST is commonly measured alongside ALT as part of the hepatic panel, although ALT levels are higher in most types of liver damage.
Albumin is a special protein made in the liver and provides the body with the proteins it requires to grow and repair tissue. The body requires a proper balance of albumin to prevent fluid from seeping out of blood vessels. Decreased concentrations levels of this protein in the blood is an indicator of liver cirrhosis.
Randox supply a range of third party clinical diagnostic hepatic reagents to aid in the diagnosis and managing the complications of liver cirrhosis. All reagents are available for use on a range of third party biochemistry analysers. Randox offer the following hepatic reagents to diagnose liver cirrhosis:
Randox also offer the following high performance and unique tests to diagnose liver cirrhosis:
Why choose Randox reagents?
- Randox offers the largest range of chemistries
- Liquid ready-to-use reagents available
- Automated applications for a wide range of clinical analysers
- Excellent correlation to reference methods
- Wide measuring ranges
- Flexible pack sizes
- Official accreditation to national and international standards including UKAS, ISO 13485:2003, and FDA.
- Easy fit reagents
- Easy read reagents
To request an application for your specific analyser, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on liver function or to view our hepatic panel, visit https://www.randox.com/liverfunction/