Matters of the Heart: Hypertension
Posted January 14, 2013
One out of every three adults has high blood pressure or
hypertension. As with humans, this health problem is seen in cats
and dogs.Primary hypertension occurs when the blood pressure is
higher than normal with no other cause. Secondary hypertension,
however, occurs when the blood pressure is higher than normal as a
result from a different disorder.Ordinarily, both a cat's and dog's
blood pressure should be about 120/70, which is similar to the
normal blood pressure of a human.
Different from humans, however, animals usually experience
secondary hypertension as a result from another disorder instead of
primary hypertension said Dr. Ashley Saunders, assistant professor
at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary & Biomedical
"People get hypertension, so they can relate to it," Saunders
said. "The thing that is different between people and pets, though,
is high blood pressure in pets is usually caused by something
High blood pressure can be a sign of kidney disease, diabetes,
endocrine disease, cancer in the adrenal glands, and central
nervous system and brain disease. High blood pressure can
also cause resinous problems such as blindness, seizures, and
depression. Other signs include fainting, anxiety and
restlessness at night, and loss of balance.
"Hypertension can result in blindness, fainting episodes, and can
even contribute to kidney disease," Saunders said.
Blood pressure on a pet is usually taken by shaving the underside
of a paw and placing a cuff halfway down on the leg. Taking
blood pressure on a pet is similar to that of a human, an
ultrasound machine is used to listen to the pet's blood flow while
the cuff is inflated and then released. The animal's blood
pressure should be taken by a veterinarian. The main treatment for
hypertension is medication.
"Hypertension in pets is totally different than people because it
is normally caused by another disease and it needs to be
medicated," Saunders said. "People are used to hearing that they
need to change their lifestyle, diet, and activity level when
diagnosed with hypertension, but that does not work for pets---
medication is needed."
Since hypertension is also a symptom for underlying problems,
Saunders explained that it is important to get the pet's blood
pressure checked regularly. Middle aged pets and older, she added,
are more susceptible to having diseases that would cause
"Once the pet is middle aged or older, blood pressure should be
taken regularly, at least once a year," Saunders said. "This helps
monitor their blood pressure and other possible disorders."
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