High blood pressure is well known in humans, but few owners know that cats can also suffer from high blood pressure. It is encountered mainly in older animals suffering from renal insufficiency or hyperthyroidism. It is important to monitor the blood pressure of cats because hypertension 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).
We speak of high blood pressure when the systolic blood pressure is persistently above 140 mmHg.
High blood pressure can be:
primary or idiopathic: no underlying condition is evident
secondary to diseases most frequently (in 80 to 90% of cases). The two main causes are kidney failure and hyperthyroidism. But other conditions can lead to high blood pressure: heart conditions, endocrine conditions, etc.
due to the “white coat effect”: increase in blood pressure during the consultation with the veterinarian linked to stress
Since high blood pressure is often secondary to a disease, the demonstration of high blood pressure can help guide the veterinarian towards an underlying condition such as kidney failure.
Blood pressure can be measured by the veterinarian using a measuring device. A cuff is placed on the animal’s leg. No anesthesia is required and blood pressure measurement is relatively quick and painless.
To avoid an increase in blood pressure linked to the “white coat effect”, it is necessary to leave the cat calm in its transport cage for about ten minutes. Blood pressure measurement should be done in the presence of the owner. Cat handling should be kept to a minimum.
Since blood pressure is more common in older cats, it is advisable to measure blood pressure once a year during the health check-up in cats over 8 years of age. When underlying diseases are diagnosed (kidney failure and hyperthyroidism in particular), more frequent blood pressure checks are recommended.
What are the consequences of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure can lead to eye, brain, kidney and heart damage. The higher the blood pressure, the greater the risk of damage to these organs.
High blood pressure can result in sudden loss of vision secondary to bilateral retinal detachment. It can also be responsible for retinal haemorrhages, glaucoma… Arterial hypertension can therefore be demonstrated 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…
High blood pressure can also cause worsening kidney failure.
What are the treatments ?
There are treatments for high blood pressure in cats. They must be associated with the treatment of the underlying disease (kidney failure for example).
Monitoring of blood pressure is necessary following the implementation of treatment.