Several devices using technologies such as oscillometry and Doppler ultrasonography measure systemic blood pressure. It takes
patience to get accurate blood pressure readings in cats. Train your technicians to perform these time-consuming measurements. Use a quiet room, have the owner present, and allow five to 10 minutes for acclimation. Perform a minimum of five to seven
measurements. It's important to use the correct cuff width (30% to 40% of the circumference of the leg) and place the cuff
at heart level.14
Patients with systolic blood pressure elevations above 170 mm Hg recorded on more than one occasion should be treated for
hypertension. It is important to identify and treat any underlying diseases first, such as hyperthyroidism. The most effective
drug is the calcium channel blocker amlodipine (0.625 to 1.25 mg/cat orally every 12 to 24 hours).15 If improvement doesn't occur after 48 to 72 hours, increase the dose.15 If you reach the dose's upper range without controlling
blood pressure adequately, add an ACE inhibitor such as benazepril (2.5 mg/cat orally every 24 hours for cats weighing 2.5
to 5 kg). In hyperthyroid cats, consider beta-blockers such as atenolol (6.25 to 12.5 mg/cat orally every 24 hours) as first-line therapy
instead. Once stabilized, cats with hypertension should be re-evaluated at least every three to four months, or as dictated
by any concurrent diseases. At each visit, measure systolic blood pressure in addition to performing a complete physical examination.
Depending on the existence of concurrent diseases, serum chemistry profiles and other diagnostics may also be re-evaluated
at least every six months.
Make sure all staff members help care for patients with chronic diseases. Everyone needs to deliver the same message of high-quality
care. In addition to performing blood pressure measurements, technicians can also teach clients how to administer insulin,
perform blood glucose readings, and give subcutaneous fluid therapy at home. A team approach will help you offer more efficient
care and make staff members feel involved in delivering high-quality care.
Susan Little, DVM, DABVP, received her BSc from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, in 1983 and her DVM in 1988 from the Ontario
Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario. She co-owns two feline specialty practices in Ottawa, Ontario, and serves
as vice president of the Winn Feline Foundation.
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