Taking care of old friends...
Did You Know Cats can suffer from High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common problem in older cats, especially those with kidney problems. If not identified and treated, it can cause serious damage to the eyes, kidneys and brain. In the early stages most cats don’t show any outward signs that their blood pressure is high, so we recommend checking their blood pressure as they get older – in the same way that our doctors keep an eye on our blood pressure. The good news is that once high blood pressure is recognised it can be treated very effectively, to prevent further damage from developing.
Measuring blood pressure is a quick and painless procedure and we are currently offering blood pressure checks free of charge to cats over 10 years of age.
We can do this because we are working with a major, reputable, veterinary pharmaceutical company that is developing a treatment for cats with high blood pressure. It is a medicine that is already used successfully to treat cats with kidney disease, so all the safety testing has been completed. The next step is a clinical study to see how effective it is at reducing blood pressure. We are therefore on the look out for cats that have mildly raised blood pressure to see if they might be suitable for this new treatment and are offering free of charge blood pressure checks for older cats that are registered with us, as long as you, their owners, are comfortable with the idea of enrolling your cats into the study if they do turn out to have mildly high blood pressure.
Measuring a cat’s blood pressure is straightforward, quick and non-painful, but we do need to be careful to make sure that the pressure is not high because of nervousness. The measurement may be done while you are present to reassure your cat, or after your cat has rested in a calm place and adapted to the surroundings. Before enrolling a cat into the trial we need to measure the blood pressure on three separate occasions to make sure that the reading we get is consistent and reliable.
If we find that your cat’s blood pressure is mildly raised on the first visit we will book a second appointment at our Caerphilly surgery to re-check the blood pressure and also run blood and urine tests to look for potential causes. We will examine your cat carefully to see if there is any indication that high blood pressure is already causing problems. All these tests and investigations will be done free of charge as long as you are happy to enrol your cat into the trial.
If your cat does have mildly raised blood pressure, with no indication of eye damage and no unexpected findings on the blood and urine tests we will then need to see him/her again within two weeks to re-check the blood pressure for a third time.
We can only enrol cats into the trial if their blood pressure is higher than normal on all three visits, but not so high as to be already causing any problems. This is because two thirds of the cats in the trial will be treated with the actual medication and one third will be treated with a placebo medication that looks identical but has no effect. This is standard practice when running clinical trials but it can be a concern because it leaves some of the cats untreated. For this reason the trial only involves cats with mildly raised blood pressure. The first part of the trial involves treatment for just one month, with further checks being made after two weeks and four weeks on treatment. Blood tests are also repeated after four weeks of treatment.
After that time the cats that are on the placebo medication come out of the trial and can be treated for their mildly raised blood pressure as necessary. As a thank you for participating, the drug company will contribute £160 to ongoing treatment. However those cats that are on the trial drug will continue to be treated for a further three months, with health checks at monthly intervals to see if the medication continues to be effective.
During the trial, all the examinations, investigations and medications will be provided free of charge.
Any cat, whether on placebo or trial drug, can be withdrawn from the trial at any time, for any reason.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you would like to bring your cat for the first free of charge blood pressure check please call us to make an appointment. Any further questions you may have can be talked through with our staff at the appointment.
How Old is Old?
We know that with good healthcare and nutrition cats can live to a ripe old age, so the old adage of 1 cat year = 7 human years has now been refined a bit to reflect our increased expectations:
Cat’s Age Human Age
6 months 12 years
2 years 24 years
6 years 40 years
10 years 56 years
11 years 60 years
12 years 64 years
13 years 68 years
14 years 72 years
15 years 76 years
16 years 80 years
17 years 84 years
18 years 88 years
19 years 92 years
20 years 96 years
21 years 100 years