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Atherosclerosis is a common disease in older chickens and often associated with sudden decline in health and unexpected death of the bird. Birds are particularly susceptible to developing this disease, with incidence rates ranging from 1.9 to 91.9%.
Atherosclerosis occurs as a result of the hardening of the arteries, related to intimal thickening and lipid deposition in the vessel wall. This results in reduced blood flow and the supply of oxygen to cells and organs. The type of artery affected and where the hardening develops varies.
Atherosclerosis Clinical Signs
The most common sign seen in chickens with atherosclerosis is sudden, unexpected death. When clinical signs do occur, they are usually associated with the complications caused by reduced blood flow through the arteries. This can manifest as lethargy, exercise intolerance, pelvic limb ataxia, difficulty breathing, ataxia, behavioral changes, and/or congestive heart failure.
Gylling, H., et al. European Atherosclerosis Society Consensus Panel on Phytosterols. Plant sterols and plant stanols in the management of dyslipidaemia and prevention of cardiovascular disease.. Atherosclerosis (2014)