Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Monitoring cardiovascular function: blood pressure

Contributor(s): Gayle Hallowell, Vetstream Ltd , Alex Dugdale

University of Nottingham logo


  • Measurement of arterial blood pressure can be performed in bovine anesthesia in conjunction with other monitoring.
  • Arterial blood pressure should be maintained above 60-70 mmHg to reduce the risk of developing peri- and post-operative morbidities and mortalities.
  • Arterial blood pressure does not equate to cardiac output, but can give a good indication of cardiovascular performance. 
  • Arterial blood pressure = cardiac output x systemic vascular resistance.
  • In general, increased blood pressure is associated with increased cardiac output, increased peripheral resistance or a lighter plane of anesthesia. Under anesthesia an increase in mean arterial pressure may precede movement.
  • In most cases, decreased mean arterial pressure is associated with decreased cardiac output as a result of myocardial depression, eg due to anesthesia being too deep, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) or severe acidosis (pH<7.1).
  • All inhalational anesthetic agents cause a dose dependent hypotension.
  • Hypotension may also be associated with bradycardia, Dysrhythmias Dysrhythmias or reduced venous return (due to positioning, hypovolaemia or severe abdominal distension).
  • Some premedicant drugs can cause Hypotension Hypotension, eg alpha-2 agonists.
    • Depends on which drug, the chosen dose and the route of administration.
    • IV administration can cause initial hypertension; but usually in cattle, the main eventual effects are hypotension and bradycardia.
  • Measurement of arterial blood pressure can be done either directly or indirectly.

Arterial blood pressure measurement

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMed Resource.
  • R Seddighi & T J Doherty (2016) Field Sedation and Anesthesia of Ruminants. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract 32 (3) pp 553-570 PubMed.
  • E J Abrahamsen (2013) Chemical restraint and injectable anesthesia of ruminants. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract 29 (1) pp 209-27 PubMed.
  • G Smith (2013) Extralabel use of anesthetic and analgesic compounds in cattle. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract 29 (1) pp 29-45 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • A Valverde & M Sinclair (2015) Ruminant Anesthesia. In: Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia. Blackwell Publishing.
  • K Clarke & C Trim (2014) Patient Monitoring and Clinical Measurement and Anaesthesia of Cattle. In: Veterinary Anaesthesia. 11th Edn. Elsevier.