Vet practices urged to take feline blood pressure to avoid a ‘cat’astrophe!

Animal Health

As vet practices adjust to the ‘new norm’ with COVID restrictions easing, veterinary professionals are being urged to highlight the benefits of feline blood pressure checks amongst cat owners whose pets are seven years of age and older1.

The move follows the launch of the results from Ceva Animal Health’s Mercury Challenge2, the largest international feline hypertension initiative, which encouraged vet practices around Europe to take blood pressure measurements from over 10,000, 4000 of which were from the UK.

“Vet practices urged to take feline blood pressure to avoid a ‘cat’astrophe! “

The Challenge results, which were recently presented by international feline medicine specialist, Dr Andy Sparkes, at the high-profile digital event, Ceva Cat Expertise 2021, showed that more than 40 per cent of cats enrolled in the Mercury Challenge were hypertensive, with a blood pressure about 30 per cent higher than the blood pressure value found in healthy cats. This high percentage suggests that feline hypertension may be even more common than suspected, especially in the aging cat population, with the mean age of hypertensive cats found to be 13 years old in the Challenge.

The risk increases as cats age or if cats have other conditions such as chronic kidney disease (CKD), with up to one in three cats found to have both conditions during the Mercury Challenge. Feline hypertension is also associated with hyperthyroidism.

Known as the ‘silent killer’, hypertension often develops insidiously without any early signs. Unfortunately, when clinical signs occur, it is often too late and consequences can be dramatic. The eyes, kidneys, heart and brain can be severely affected.

An early diagnosis is crucial to prevent serious damage. During the Mercury Challenge nine out of 10 cats were calm and cooperative during the procedure, which lasted no longer than 10 minutes. Once diagnosed, hypertension can be easily and efficiently treated with the daily administration of an appropriate treatment.

Jodie Tanner, veterinary surgeon at Lime Tree Vets in Staffordshire who participated in the Mercury Challenge comments: “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 which 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 preventative health care plan – The Pet Plus Membership – and our ‘Gold Plan’ is tailored to our patients over 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 has a range of resources available to support veterinary practices, including those that wish to set up vet nurse blood pressure clinics. The digital hypertension tool kit is available by registering on the Ease the Pressure website - It features information on the Hypertension CPD Hub, an Ease the Pressure pack containing resources to support vet practices and owner communications and details on Ceva’s online Hypertension Ambassador CPD course. A vet practice social media pack is also available.

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