Saturday, May 31, 2008

High Blood Pressure?

Tony is such a beautiful and sweet cat. He has very caring and attentive owners, and he is much healthier because of them.

We picked up a heart murmur not too long ago, and since then, Tony has had a full cardiac workup. But the true underlying reason for his heart condition might be more than just plain cardiac disease. In fact, it might even be reversible.

Tony has hyperthyroidism, a common condition in older cats. A small polyp on the thyroid gland secretes excess thyroid hormone. These cats actually eat more, are more active, yet they loose weight. It is kind of like turning the thermostat to 80F; you run much hotter and burn more fuel. Eventually the excess hormone harms the heart, liver, and other internal organs. Left untreated, the disease can progress to death.

Treatment consist of daily medication, and in some cases, radioactive iodine treatment. These cats slow down, gain weight, and fortunately, often heal the organ damage with treatment. And since most cats hate pills, we have special flavored liquid that makes treatment much easier. With good care, these kitties live very normal and happy lives.

Yet often these hyperthyroid cats are also hypertensive, or have high blood pressure. We checked Tony’s blood pressure last week, and it was fine for now. But we will keep a close eye on his blood pressure. Hypertension can be very serious in felines; it can lead to sudden stroke and other serious complications.

I know this is all complicated -- but that is the nature of the felines – they would not have it any other way! As a vet, you need to be thorough and attentive to all the details to manage a feline medical case properly. And Tony’s case shows that great care at home can really extend a cat’s life. Tony will live many years longer because of it!