Vet professionals are being urged to promote the importance of feline blood pressure checks to owners of cats aged seven and older1 following publication of results of a major international hypertension project.
According to the results of Ceva Animal Health’s Mercury Challenge2, revealed by feline medicine specialist Andy Sparkes at the online Ceva Cat Expertise 2021 event, more than 40% of cats enrolled in the initiative were hypertensive, with blood pressure around 30% higher than the value found in healthy cats.
The high percentage suggests feline hypertension may be more common than suspected, particularly in ageing cats. The mean age in the challenge was 13.
The Mercury Challenge saw blood pressure measurements taken from more than 10,000 cats across Europe, including 4,000 in the UK.
Results also showed the risk increases as cats age if they also have conditions including chronic kidney disease (CKD), with one in three cats found to have both conditions. Feline hypertension is also associated with hyperthyroidism.
Known as a silent killer, hypertension can develop with no early clinical signs, but once they do eyes, kidneys, heart and brain can be affected. Once diagnosed, it can be treated with a daily treatment.
Nine out of 10 cats were calm during the blood pressure measuring procedure, which took around 10 minutes.
Jodie Tanner – veterinary surgeon at Lime Trees Vets in Staffordshire, which participated in the Mercury Challenge – said: “We were surprised by how many of the cats whose blood pressure we measured as part of the Mercury Challenge were actually hypertensive and were taken aback at the number of hypertensive cats that lacked clinical signs or target organ damage.
“These hypertensive cats would have previously gone undetected prior to us screening our older patients and they would probably have only presented when they had advanced target organ damage, such as blindness.
“Measuring blood pressure in cats is now incorporated into our bespoke preventive health care plan – PetPlusMember – and our Gold plan is tailored to our patients older than eight years of age. Included in the Gold plan are twice-yearly blood pressure checks, so we can pick up hypertension cases as early as possible, and the plan also includes twice-yearly urine screens and yearly blood screens to pick up other common diseases seen in older cats, such as hyperthyroidism and CKD.”
Ceva said it has a range of resources to support veterinary practices, including any wanting to set up VN blood pressure clinics.
A toolkit is available online featuring resources for vet professionals and to communicate with owners. A social media pack is also available.
Credit to: Campaign urges vet professionals to take feline blood pressure (Vet Times)
Vet Times. (2021). Campaign urges vet professionals to take feline blood pressure [online]