What is Hypertension
High Blood Pressure, also known as “Hypertension” is a common condition in both humans and cats worldwide. The causes of high blood pressure are varied, but the end result is the same: blindness, retinal detachment, organ damage, and risk of strokes, aneurysms, or even sudden death.
Blood pressure is made up of three values, called “systolic”, “mean”, and “diastolic”. In cats, the value we are most concerned with is the systolic pressure. A healthy, relaxed cat should have a systolic blood pressure of 120-130, however in the stress of a clinic setting this may reach 160. Pressures higher than this are a cause for concern, especially if they are repeatable.
In humans, high blood pressure is often linked to stress or high cholesterol. While anxiety and obesity are major issues for the modern cat, hypertension in our feline friends most often occurs due to kidney disease, heart disease, hormone disorders, or hyperthyroidism (though many more causes have been identified). Preventing high blood pressure in cats involves careful monitoring for risk factors and quick intervention in the early stages of disease.
Blood pressure screening in cats is a quick, painless, and non-invasive procedure that can be performed by your veterinarian in the course of a physical exam. The Village Cat Clinic recommends regular blood pressure checks in all geriatric cats and in those cats with “high risk” conditions. This includes that any cat over 10 years of age, those with heart or kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, or sudden onset blindness. Speak with your veterinarian if you think your cat should be screened for hypertension at his or her next exam.
Treatment and Control
The best way to lower blood pressure in a cat is to treat the underlying issue. In some cases, such as hyperthyroidism, this can be accomplished. In other situations (kidney or heart disease) the underlying condition cannot be addressed and specific medications to lower blood pressure must be used. These medications are often called “anti-hypertensives” and include drugs like beta-blockers, amlodipine, or ACE-Inhibitors. These may be available as pills, liquids, or even trans-dermal gels to make medication your cat as simple and stress free as possible.
Consistency is important in the management of high blood pressure, so finding a method of treatment that you and your cat can tolerate every day is a major goal of the Village Cat Clinic Team.
Written by Dr.Matthew Kornya