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Hypertension, or high blood pressure, may be as common in pets as in humans, but at present this is not known. The reason is that it is only recently that satisfactory methods for measuring blood pressure in pets have been developed. We now have one, on trial for the present, and will begin monitoring blood pressure in suspect pets.

Cats are known to have at least two common disease processes which lead to raised blood pressure: hyperthyroidism and renal insufficiency/failure (which is mentioned elsewhere on the site). Hyperthyroidism is caused by benign tumours in the thyroids of middle-aged to older cats. These produce excessive amounts of thyroid hormone which raise the metabolic rate, causing weight loss, and raise blood pressure also.

The occurrence of high blood pressure in dogs is less well known, but checking suspect patients will lead to greater understanding and treatment when needed.

The effects of high blood pressure are damage to kidney filter beds, overloading of the heart leading to heart failure, damage to the structures of the eye and possibly occasionally strokes.

We already are treating cats to preserve their kidneys and to relieve heart strain but detecting the early signs of eye damage is tricky and detecting hypertension should be easier.

The machine which measures blood pressure is modified from ones used on humans. One main problem is to measure it on a relaxed patient. This means taking several readings over a period of time. Initially we will probably have to keep the patient at the surgery for a couple of hours, but we hope to make extra space available for our nurses to carry out the measurement while the owners wait before too long.

If you are interested in having your pet's blood pressure measured (cats and dogs only) contact the surgery and speak to a nurse.

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