High blood pressure is well known in humans but few owners know that cats can also suffer from high blood pressure. It is found mainly in older animals with kidney failure or hyperthyroidism. It is important to monitor cat tension as high blood pressure can cause serious damage such as sudden loss of sight.
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure varies over time between two values: systolic blood pressure (maximum blood pressure) and diastolic blood pressure (maximum blood pressure).
High blood pressure is when systolic blood pressure is persistently above 140 mmHg.
High blood pressure can be:
- Primary or idiopathic: no underlying conditions are identified
- Most commonly (in 80-90% of cases). The two main causes are kidney failure and hyperthyroidism. But other conditions can lead to high blood pressure: heart disease, endocrine disorders…
- Due to the “white coat effect”: increased blood pressure during the stress-related veterinary consultation
Because high blood pressure is often secondary to a disease, the evidence of high blood pressure can help direct the veterinarian to an underlying condition such as kidney failure.
How do I measure blood pressure?
Blood pressure can be measured by the veterinarian using a measuring device. An armband is placed on the animal’s paw. No anesthesia is necessary and the measurement of blood pressure is relatively quickly and not painful.
To avoid an increase in blood pressure due to the “white coat effect”, it is necessary to leave the cat calm in its transport cage for about ten minutes. Blood pressure should be measured in the presence of the owner. The cat’s manipulations should be minimized.
As blood pressure is more common in older cats, it is advisable to measure blood pressure once a year during the check-up in cats over 8 years of age. When underlying diseases are diagnosed (including kidney failure and hyperthyroidism), more frequent blood pressure controls are recommended.
What are the consequences of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure can lead to damage to the eyes, brain, kidneys and heart. The higher the blood pressure, the greater the risk of damage to these organs.
High blood pressure can result in sudden loss of sight secondary to bilateral detachment of the retina. It can also be responsible for retinal hemorrhage, glaucoma… High blood pressure can therefore be found following the appearance of sudden blindness in cats, without any warning signs. Generally, the lesions are too advanced during the consultation and the cat retains sequelae.
Brain damage can lead to seizures, loss of sight, loss of balance, etc.
High blood pressure can also cause kidney failure to worsen.
What are the treatments?
There are treatments for high blood pressure in cats. They must be associated with the treatment of the underlying disease (e.g. kidney failure).
Blood pressure monitoring is required following the treatment.