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Kim Souttar
The Veterinary Nurse, Vol. 1, Iss. 2, 29 Nov 2010, pp 86 - 92

High blood pressure (hypertension) is an common problem in geriatric cats.
Routine measurement of blood pressure can contribute to optimal clinical care. Veterinary nurses play an important role in measurement of blood pressure in routine clinical practice.
Successful measurement of blood pressure in cats requires attention to detail using a standardized protocol such as that outlined in this article. Veterinary nurses are well placed to apply such a standard procedure, thereby obtaining consistent and accurate results.
Hypertension is often a hidden condition, masked by cats' incredible coping abilities. Blindness or hyphaema may be the first sign noticed by the owner. Even though blind cats can lead a relatively normal life, they often have an underlying disease associated with hypertension, such as chronic kidney disease and/or hyperthyroidism. However, some cats may have no underlying diseases detectable and their hypertension would be classified as idiopathic. Treatment using amlodipine besylate, a calcium channel blocker, has been shown to work most effectively in cats with hypertension.
In the last few decades knowledge of hypertension has improved, however, many older cats are still not routinely having their blood pressure measured. The veterinary nurse is often under utilized in this area. Veterinary nurses should take a pro-active role in measuring blood pressure in cats, within the consulting room, with their owners present. It is only by performing routine, pre-emptive blood pressure measurement in the absence of clinical signs that development of end-organ damage, such as blindness, will be prevented.

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