High Blood Pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common disease in humans. Some studies have shown that petting a cat or dog can lower high blood pressure because of the calming effects of the human-animal interaction. Did you know that cats can suffer from hypertension, just like people? Unlike people, cats do not suffer from high blood pressure because of a stressful lifestyle. Often, cats have an underlying medical condition that causes their blood pressure to rise to abnormal levels, but sometimes there is not an identifiable cause and this is called idiopathic hypertension.
Often we realize that a cat has high blood pressure when they suddenly become blind. This occurs because the increased pressure within the blood vessels of the eye can cause the retina to pull off of the back surface of the eye, making it useless for seeing. This is an emergency situation and can be corrected with rapid treatment of the elevated blood pressure.
The two common diseases that often have hypertension as a symptom are hyperthyroidism and kidney failure. Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of hormones. These hormones are responsible for regulating normal metabolism within the body. Cats with hyperthyroidism are usually very irritable, have an extremely high heart rate, and are very skinny despite tremendous appetites. Cats with kidney disease have high blood pressure because of a complicated interaction of hormones produced by the kidney. This interaction does not work properly because of the disease process within the kidney. High blood pressure in both of these cases can be controlled usually by managing the underlying disease, but medications to control the blood pressure may be necessary.
In cases of idiopathic hypertension, when we can’t find a cause, the blood pressure levels must be managed with medications. Often, the medications that are prescribed are the same ones that we might take for high blood pressure. Hypertension requires careful monitoring and life-long medication to successfully manage the condition.
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Veterinary Technical Services Department