About 4.6M Cana­di­ans have high blood pres­sure


TORONTO — Al­most one in five Cana­dian adults have high blood pres­sure that puts them at risk for heart at­tacks, strokes and kid­ney dis­ease — but a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion are un­aware they even have the con­di­tion, a sur­vey has found.

The Statis­tics Canada study, the most com­pre­hen­sive health sur­vey in­volv­ing di­rect phys­i­cal mea­sures ever car­ried out in the coun­try, sug­gests about 4.6 mil­lion Cana­di­ans aged 20 to 79 have high blood pres­sure.

“Al­to­gether, we found that the preva­lence of hy­per­ten­sion was 19 per cent, and that 19 per cent in­cluded both those who were on med­i­ca­tion and those whose blood pres­sure read­ing was in the hy­per­ten­sive range,” said Kathryn Wilkins, a se­nior an­a­lyst at Statis­tics Canada who led the study.

“It went up dra­mat­i­cally with age,” Wilkins said Wed­nes­day from Ottawa. “In the age group 20 to 39, there was only a preva­lence of two per cent of hy­per­ten­sion; at ages 40 to 59, it was 19 per cent; and then at 60 to 79, over half u 53 per cent of peo­ple u had hy­per­ten­sion.”

A per­son is con­sid­ered to have high blood pres­sure if their top, or sys­tolic, read­ing is 140 or greater, and the bot­tom, or di­as­tolic, num­ber is at or ex­ceeds 90. Mea­sure­ments of 120 to 139 sys­tolic over 80 to 89 di­as­tolic are con­sid­ered pre­hy­per­ten­sive.

The 2007-2009 sur­vey of 3,514 adults u a sam­ple that rep­re­sents 23.7 mil­lion Cana­di­ans u found that 20 per cent had read­ings in the pre-hy­per­ten­sion range, while 61 per cent had nor­mal blood pres­sure.

Wilkins said the Cana­dian Health Mea­sures Sur­vey is the first to use di­rect, au­to­mated mea­sures of blood pres­sure and self-re­ported use of blood pres­sure med­i­ca­tion to build a pro­file of hy­per­ten­sion among the pop­u­la­tion.

The study es­ti­mates that about 80 per cent of those with hy­per­ten­sion are be­ing treated with drugs, and in two-thirds of cases, the med­i­ca­tions are ef­fec­tive in con­trol­ling blood pres­sure.

In about 6.6 per cent, the con­di­tion was un­con­trolled, mean­ing that blood pres­sure re­mained too high, said Wilkins.

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