Sat Mar 07 2020 15:58:38

Letting the cat out of the bag about feline hypertension

Submitted by: Dr. Jones

Feline hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a disease that can go undiagnosed in many older cats. Similar to people, there are usually few or no symptoms of high blood pressure, so screening for hypertension in older cats is the best way to diagnose cats who need treatment to lower their blood pressure. Untreated hypertension can cause damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys, or brain. There are many causes for hypertension in cats, but the most common include hyperthyroidism, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and obesity. All of these diseases happen to be relatively common in our aging cat population.

Detecting hypertension is as simple as attaching a blood pressure cuff on your cat’s leg or tail and measuring her blood pressure in the exam room. Normal blood pressure in cats is around 120/80, although we expect many of our patients to have artificially elevated blood pressure due to apprehension from being in an unfamiliar environment. If your cat is diagnosed with true hypertension, it is important to investigate the cause of the hypertension, as well as look for any collateral damage to her organs that can be caused by high blood pressure.  This testing can include a thorough physical exam, blood and urine testing, as well as chest x-rays and even a cardiac ultrasound.

Treatment of hypertension in cats includes treating the underlying cause, treating the high blood pressure, and treating any consequences of the high blood pressure if necessary.  Treatment for high blood pressure in cats generally starts with oral medication, although alternative options are possible for some cases. Once treatment has begun, repeated monitoring of blood pressure will help adjust treatment until your cat’s blood pressure is better under control. Routine follow-up monitoring is then needed every 3 to 6 months to ensure medication doses are still appropriate as your cat continues to age.

Ask us if your cat should be screened for hypertension at her next check-up!  For more information about hypertension cats, there are several helpful links below.

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