Authors: Atwood KMRobitaille CJReimer KDai SJohansen HLSmith MJ.

BACKGROUND:

Hypertension is a substantial health concern because it poses significant risks for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and is highly prevalent in the population. Tracking hypertension is important because it is a risk factor for other conditions, but prevalence estimates might vary depending on the data source used.

METHODS:

This report describes 3 national population-based data sources for estimating hypertension prevalence in Canada and discusses their strengths and weaknesses to aid in their use for policy and program planning. They are compared based on: sample coverage, case identification, and prevalence estimates.

RESULTS:

Each source produces a different measure of hypertension prevalence, as follows: (1) diagnosed hypertension from the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System (CCDSS) (2007/2008); (2) self-reported diagnosed hypertension from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) (2007-2008); and, (3) physically-measured hypertension from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) (2007-2009). Crude rates and counts of hypertension prevalence among individuals aged 20 to 79 years of age, excluding pregnant women, are compared, resulting in prevalence ranging from 18.2% in self-report data to 20.3% in diagnosed data. The data sources differ in terms of target population, case identification, and limitations, which affects the estimates.

CONCLUSIONS:

Each source has unique strengths and is best suited for addressing particular research questions. For example, diagnosed hypertension can be used to determine health care utilization patterns, self-reported to examine health determinants, and measured high blood pressure to improve awareness, treatment, and control. Combined, they can address multiple issues and increase our knowledge of hypertension in Canada.

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