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Feline hypertension: ISFM guidelines on diagnosis and management

Routine blood pressure monitoring is generally performed infrequently in cats, probably leading to under-diagnosis of feline hypertension in clinical practice.

The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), the veterinary division of International Cat Care, has published guidelines to offer practitioners up-to-date information on the causes, clinical signs, diagnosis and management of feline hypertension, as well as practical advice on measurement of blood pressure and interpretation of results.

The recommendations are those of an expert panel of veterinary clinicians and academics gathered from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France and the USA, and cover several key areas. These include: how often to monitor blood pressure for cats of different ages and health status; when antihypertensive therapy is justified based on different systolic blood pressure readings and evidence of target organ damage; and what an investigation of hypertensive cats should include.

Hypertension is a well-recognised condition in older cats, yet probably remains significantly underdiagnosed. The consequences can be severe, with target organ damage typically affecting the eyes, heart, brain and kidneys. Some damage, such as blindness resulting from complete retinal detachment, is irreversible. Other damage, however, is more amenable to antihypertensive treatment, highlighting the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. However, this presents challenges, particularly as routine blood pressure monitoring is generally performed infrequently in cats. Furthermore, cats are notoriously susceptible to stress in the veterinary clinic, which can lead to ‘white coat hypertension’ and hamper interpretation of results.

Samantha Taylor, a specialist in feline medicine and one of the co-chairs of the guidelines panel, said, “Well illustrated and easy to read, it is hoped that these guidelines will encourage more widespread monitoring of blood pressure in veterinary clinics to increase the early identification of this treatable condition, and prevent the severe clinical consequences of untreated hypertension.”

Accompanying the guidelines, published in the Journal of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, are further resources to assist veterinarians with the diagnosis of hypertension. A blood pressure evaluation form can be downloaded from the supplementary material; in addition, a series of short videos produced by the ISFM on measuring blood pressure in cats is available in various languages at:

Read article: ISFM Consensus Guidelines on the Diagnosis and Management of Hypertension in Cats by Samantha S Taylor, Andrew H Sparkes, Katherine Briscoe, Jenny Carter, Salva Cervantes Sala, Rosanne E Jepson, Brice S Reynolds and Brian A Scansen, published in Journal of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (2017) vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 288-303, doi:10.1177/1098612X17693500

Article details

  • Date
  • 02 March 2017
  • Source
  • International Cat Care
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals