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Ocular lesions associated with systemic hypertension in dogs: 65 cases (2005–2007)

Nicole L. LeBlanc DVM1, Rebecca L. Stepien DVM, MS, DACVIM2, and Ellison Bentley DVM, DACVO3
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  • 1 Departments of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.
  • | 2 Departments of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.
  • | 3 Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize ocular findings in hypertensive dogs, determine prevalence of hypertension in dogs with ocular disease suggestive of hypertension, and examine possible relationships between degree of hypertension and ocular disease.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—65 dogs initially referred for blood pressure measurement (n = 22), ophthalmic examination (25), or both (18).

Procedures—Medical records were reviewed to identify dogs examined at the teaching hospital that underwent a complete ophthalmic examination and blood pressure measurement within a 24-hour period between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2007. Signalment, history, blood pressure measurements, ophthalmic examination findings, and any vasoactive drug treatments were recorded. Ocular lesions considered likely to be associated with systemic hypertension included retinal hemorrhage, retinal detachment, hyphema, tortuous vessels, and subretinal edema.

Results—Of the 65 dogs, 42 were hypertensive (systolic blood pressure ≥ 160 mm Hg) and 23 were normotensive. Sixty-two percent (26/42) of hypertensive dogs had ≥ 1 type of ocular lesion identified. Retinal hemorrhage was the most common ocular lesion in hypertensive dogs (17/42 [40%]). The presence of ≥ 1 type of ocular lesion had moderate sensitivity and specificity of 62% and 61 %, respectively, for identification of hypertension. Fifteen of the 25 (60%) dogs referred for blood pressure measurement after initial ophthalmic examination were found to be hypertensive.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Ocular lesions are common in dogs with systemic hypertension. Dogs with hypertension or diseases associated with hypertension should be monitored carefully for evidence of ocular target organ damage, and hypertension should be systematically ruled out in dogs with characteristic ocular lesions.

Contributor Notes

Dr. LeBlanc's present address is Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695.

Address correspondence to Dr. Stepien (stepienr@svm.vetmed.wisc.edu).