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Changes in retinal vascular diameters in senior and geriatric cats in association with variation in systemic blood pressure

Enache, Andra; Dietrich, Ursula; Drury, Oscar; Trucco, Emanuele; MacGillivray, Tom; Syme, Harriet; Elliott, Jonathan; Chang, Yu-Mei


Andra Enache

Ursula Dietrich

Oscar Drury

Emanuele Trucco

Tom MacGillivray

Harriet Syme

Jonathan Elliott

Yu-Mei Chang


Objectives Early diagnosis of arterial hypertension is essential to prevent target organ damage. In humans, retinal arteriolar narrowing predicts hypertension. This blinded prospective observational study investigated the retinal vessel diameters among senior and geriatric cats of varying systolic blood pressure (SBP) status and evaluated retinal vascular changes in hypertensive cats after treatment. Methods  Cats with a median age of 14 years (range 9.1-22 years) were categorised into five groups (G): healthy G1 (SBP 160 mmHg, n = 15). Colour fundus images (Optibrand ClearView) were assessed for hypertensive lesions. Retinal vascular diameters and bifurcation angles were annotated and calculated using the VAMPIRE-AT. When available, measurements were obtained at three and six months after amlodipine besylate treatment. Results  Ten hypertensive cats had retinal lesions, most commonly intra-retinal haemorrhages and retinal exudates. Arteriole and venule diameters decreased significantly with increasing age (–0.17 ± 0.05 pixel/year, P = 0.0004; –0.19 ± 0.05 pixel/year). Adjusted means ± standard error for arteriole and venule diameter (pixels) were: 6.3 ± 0.2, 8.9 ± 0.2 (G1), 7.6 ± 0.3, 10.1 ± 0.4 (G2), 6.9 ± 0.2, 9.5 ± 0.3 (G3), 7.4 ± 0.3, 10.0 ± 0.4 (G4) and 7.0 ± 0.3, 9.8 ± 0.4 (G5). G1 arteriole and venule diameters were significantly lower than G2 and G4. G2 arteriole bifurcation angle was significantly narrower than G1 and G3. Post-treatment, vessel diameters decreased significantly at three and six months in seven hypertensive cats. Conclusions and relevance  Increased age was associated with reduced vascular diameters. Longitudinal studies are required to assess if variations in vessel diameters are a risk indicator for hypertension in cats.


Enache, A., Dietrich, U., Drury, O., Trucco, E., MacGillivray, T., Syme, H., …Chang, Y. (2021). Changes in retinal vascular diameters in senior and geriatric cats in association with variation in systemic blood pressure. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 1, 2021
Publication Date Mar 19, 2021
Deposit Date Apr 22, 2021
Publicly Available Date Apr 23, 2021
Print ISSN 1098-612X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL