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Feline hypertension and related topics
High blood pressure in cats
Cats suffer from many of the same health conditions that we do. One of these is high blood pressure (also known as hypertension). Simply put, this is where blood, circulating within blood vessles) is under excessive (higher than normal) pressure. Hypertension is very common in older cats, as it is in humans.
However, although hypertenson is common, this does not mean it is normal! High blood pressure is is potentially very harmful, and is not something we want our cats to be living with. Left untreated, it can cause serious damage to a cat’s eyes, kidneys, heart and brain. It’s often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because in many cases, there aren’t any obvious signs of hypertension until significant damage occurs. This is why routine monitoring of the blood pressure of older cats is so vitally important to their health and wellbeing.
Chronic kidney disease in cats
CKD (chronic kidney disease) is one of the most common conditions that affects older cats. The disease affects the kidneys, usually causing permanent and often progressive damage, interefring with their vital functions. CKD is usually not curable or reversible, so treatment aims to slow disease progression, manage complications, and improve the cat’s quality of life.
Similar to hypertension, it is initially often a ‘silent’ disease with early signs often being mild and unnoticed until a point where the disease is more advanced. Again, regular checks for cats over the age of 7 can help earlier diagnosis, with treatment able to start sooner.
Hyperthyroidism in cats
Hyperthyroidism is another common condition of older cats. This disease is caused by excessive production of thyroid hormones (mainly thyroxine) by the thyroid glands, which are situated in the neck. The excessive thyroid hormones increase the cat’s metabolism, which can cause serious illness.
With most cats, hyperthyroidism is caused by a benign (non-cancerous) tumour of the thyroid gland. Whilst there’s no way to prevent hyperthyroidism, it can be successfully treated in a number of ways, and an appropriate plan will be agreed between the vet and the owner.
The Mercury Challenge
Have you heard of the ‘Mercury Challenge’? This was a campaign run by Ceva, working with veterinary professionals to record the blood pressure results from over 10,000 cats aged 7 and above, across 20 different countries.
Approximately 40% of cats involved were found to have high blood pressure and one in five cats had severly high blood pressure. In most cases, without measuring the blood pressure, the presence of hypertension would likely have gone undetected and untreated!
A second edition of the Mercury Challenge is currently on-going. If you are a vet or a nurse, go to mercurychallenge.ceva.com