According to an investigation in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), the prevalence of hypertension in Canada is on the rise, and over a one-quarter of Canadian adults are projected to be diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) by 2012-2013. Compared with men, older women were more likely to be diagnosed with hypertension. In addition, individuals living in the Atlantic provinces had the highest rates of high blood pressure.
Investigators in Canada examined data on 26 million individuals aged 20+ between 1998-1999 and 2007-2008 from The Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System (CCDSS), in order to determine the prevalence of hypertension as well as the number of new cases (incidence). The data was examined by age group and by province/territory. The CCDSS includes all Canadians who have used the health care system.
The team reported that from 2007-2008, around 6 million (23%) Canadians were living with diagnosed hypertension, with more women having the condition (24.3%) than men (21.7%). This figure is higher than the Canadian Community Health Survey reported in 2007, which found a prevalence of 19.2%.
Nearly half a million (418,000) new adult cases of hypertension were diagnosed in 2007-2008. After adjusting for age, the team found that the prevalence of hypertension rose from 12.5% in 1998-1999 to 19.6% in 2007-2008, with an annual increase of 5%.
Ms. Cynthia Robitaille, Public Health Agency of Canada, with coauthors, explained:
"If the 2007/09 age- and sex-specific incidence and mortality remain constant, we forecast that about 26.5% (7.4 million) of Canadian adults will be living with diagnosed hypertension by 2012/13."
Over the past decade as people aged, the prevalence of hypertension increased as well as more new cases. The prevalence rates for women over the age of 60 were higher (43.6%) than in men (40%). In women older than 75 the rates of new cases increased (8.6% compared with 8.2%). In addition, individuals with hypertension aged between 20-49 years old were 2-4 times more likely to die in comparison to those without hypertension.
Hypertension is the leading risk factor for reduced quality of life and death, and is responsible for around 13% of all deaths. In addition, the condition can increase the risk of heart and kidney failure, dementia, stroke as well as other chronic diseases.
The researchers conclude:
"Programs to improve the lifestyles of Canadians, such as the proposed initiative to reduce sodium consumption, will be critical to decrease the incidence and prevalence of diagnosed hypertension in Canada."
The investigation was carried out by investigators from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health Ontario, the University of Calgary, the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, the British Columbia Ministry of Health Services, the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and the Institut national de santé publique du Québec.
Written by Grace Rattue