2000 veterinary surgeons and nurses/technicians took part in the study, of which 545 completed all questions.
The biggest equipment barriers to BP measurement were 'cuff frustration' (cuffs pinging off) and difficulties hearing the pulse, which were experienced at least sometimes by 72.2% and 71.6% of participants respectively when using Doppler machines.
When asked about barriers relating to the procedure itself, the most significant issues were a lack of time, not having a colleague available to restrain the cat, and simply forgetting to include BP in the assessment.
Owner-related barriers included difficulties persuading clients to book a separate BP appointment, difficulties persuading clients to bring cats in for a BP check at all, and reticence over the cost.
Sarah Caney, RCVS recognised Specialist in Feline Medicine who lead the study, said: “Feline hypertension is an extremely common condition which affects approximately one in five cats nine years or over4, however there are several challenges that we need to address to enhance the long-term health and welfare of the nation’s cats.
"The good news is that some of the barriers identified in the study can be overcome by taking a ‘practice makes perfect’ attitude towards taking blood pressure, in that the more experience vet professionals have, the easier the procedure will become.
"The study showed many VNs are confident and enthusiastic about blood pressure assessment in cats; this should be encouraged and expanded upon to ensure that as many older cats and those with conditions increasing their risk of hypertension, receive the BP monitoring they deserve.
Eye examinations are helpful in confirming a diagnosis of systemic hypertension, however the study revealed that while 96.5% of respondents had access to a direct ophthalmoscope, 73.1% reported that they felt under-confident in performing and interpreting ocular examinations when identifying hypertensive lesions in cats.
Ceva Animal Health, which funded the study, says that because between 50 and 100% of hypertensive cats have ocular lesions2,3, it is vital that clinicians feel able to identify ocular pathologies associated with high blood pressure.
Sarah added: "VNs and vets should be encouraged to ‘upskill’ their eye examination skills, as this can be extremely helpful in identifying cats with hypertension."
To that end, Ceva has published an online feline ophthalmology course ‘Looking hypertension in the eye’: www.veterinarywebinars.com/community/ceva
The course, which is presented by Dr Ben Blacklock BVSc (Hons), Dipl. ECVO, MRCVS, senior lecturer in veterinary ophthalmology at the University of Edinburgh, is designed to help vets and vet nurses to get the most out of their ocular exams and gain confidence in identifying ocular lesions associated with feline hypertension.
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Publishing Editor: Arlo Guthrie
Clinical Editor: Alasdair Hotston Moore MA VetMB CertSAC CertVR CertSAS FRCVS
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