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.
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.
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.
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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