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Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. It is most common in older, obese cats.

This disease can cause injury to the brain, eyes, heart, and kidneys.

CAUSES:

Some cases of hypertension are idiopathic (there is no known cause). This is called Primary Hypertension. Some known causes include:

  • Stress
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease: with age, scar tissue grows on the kidneys; the kidneys shrink, and it becomes harder for blood to get through
  • Hyperthyroidism: increase of hormones and the metabolism, which causes the heart to pump faster

Other causes may include:

  • Diseases of the endocrine system (like Cushing’s disease)
  • Drugs
  • Disorders of the central nervous system

SIGNS:

Many cats with hypertension have nosigns at all. In cats that do show signs, the most common one is eye abnormalities:

  • Enlarged pupils
  • Blood in the eye
  • Sudden blindness

Othersigns include:

  • Strokes
  • Lack of energy
  • Blood clots
  • Rapid heart rate

If the underlying cause is kidney disease or hyperthyroidism, there will be additional signs:

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Vomiting and weight loss
  • Dull, un-groomed hair

DIAGNOSIS:

To properly diagnose your cat with hypertension, your veterinarian may perform the following:

  • Physical examination: eyes, brain, heart, and kidneys
  • Doppler flow detector: repeated measurement of blood pressure
  • Blood tests: to check for underlying causes
  • X-rays and ultrasounds: to check underlying causes

TREATMENT:

Most veterinarians will recommend the following treatments for cats with hypertension:

  • Medication to lower blood pressure
  • Treatment of the underlying disease
  • Reduction of weight and sodium

PREVENTION:

If your cat is older, or has kidney or thyroid problems, you should have your veterinarian regularly test its blood pressure.

PROGNOSIS:

Hyperthyroidism is usually curable, but the prognosis depends on the severity of the underlying cause.

If the cat became blind, it may regain its vision if caught early enough.