| However, when I examined Holly,
I began to see a glimmer of hope.
I examined her eyes to find the cause of her blindness,
and discovered that she had haemorrhages in her retinas
the back part of the eye. This is most commonly caused
by high blood pressure (hypertension). She also had a heart
murmur another frequent finding in hypertension.
Her depressed mental state could also have been explained
by hypertension, as the elevated blood pressure can cause
haemorrhages in the brain, too. These can result in anything
from odd behaviour to seizures and coma.
I checked Hollys blood pressure and found that it
was dramatically elevated. This confirmed my suspicions.
The next question was what had caused this?
In man, 95% of cases of hypertension are classed as essential
hypertension. This means that no obvious cause can
be identified (though genetics and lifestyle may play a
In cats, however, only 5% of cases fall into this category.
The majority of cases of hypertension are the result of
underlying illnesses usually overactive thyroid glands,
or chronic kidney disease. Thus, we always do blood tests
for these diseases when a cat has high blood pressure. If
the cat has one of these diseases, it is vital to treat
the disease, and not just the high blood pressure.
In Hollys case, however, the blood tests were normal.
She therefore fell into the 5% group where the cause of
her hypertension was unknown.
Holly was put onto a human drug amlodipine
to reduce her blood pressure. After a week, Holly returned
to be re-assessed. This was D-Day, as if she
was no better, we had agreed to put her to sleep.
Holly, however, had obviously decided that her 9 lives
were not up yet. She had made a dramatic improvement and
was eating well, bright, lively and had gained a pound in
weight. Her blood pressure was now back to normal.
Her sight had not returned unfortunately, the eyes
are extremely sensitive to raised blood pressure, and sight
is rarely restored once lost. Despite this, she was so used
to her home environment that she was coping well, and was
even going out in the garden again! So, whilst her sight
may be going, Holly has decided that the rest of her is
definitely staying for the meantime anyway!
Young BVSc CertSAM MRCVS
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