Blood pressure of Canadian adults, 2009 to 2011

Results from the 2009 to 2011 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) indicate that 22% Canadian adults suffer from hypertension; however, 17% of hypertensive individuals are unaware of their condition.

Average resting blood pressure values differed by age and sex, based on directly measured blood pressure. For both males and females, measured systolic blood pressure (SBP) increased significantly with age. Average SBP was significantly higher for males aged 20 to 59 compared to females of the same age group, whereas females aged 70 to 79 had significantly higher SBP than males of the same age. These results are consistent with those from the 2007 to 2009 CHMS.Note 1

Chart 1
Mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure (mmHg), by sex and age group, household population aged 20 to 79 years, Canada, 2009 to 2011

Description for Chart 1

Chart 1 Mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure (mmHg), by sex and age group, household population aged 20 to 79 years, Canada, 2009 to 20111

Hypertension

Hypertension is defined as a measured SBP greater than or equal to 140 mmHg, a diastolic blood pressure (DBP) greater than or equal to 90 mmHg, or the self-reported use of anti-hypertensive medication. Hypertension is prevalent in 22% of Canadian adults aged 20 to 79 years. Hypertension increases greatly with age such that 52% of Canadians aged 60 to 79 have been diagnosed by a health-care professional with hypertension, are taking hypertension medication, or have high measured blood pressure. Meanwhile, only 22% of adults aged 40 to 59 and 4% of adults aged 20 to 39 are considered to be hypertensive.

Of those with hypertension, 64% have controlled hypertension (i.e. taking medication and have a measured blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg), whereas 15% have uncontrolled hypertension (i.e. taking medication yet have a measured blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg). 17% of the hypertensive population are unaware of their condition, whereas the remainder are aware of their condition, but are not currently taking any anti-hypertensive medications. These results are also consistent with those reported from the 2007 to 2009 CHMS.Note 1

Chart 2
Percentage with hypertension who are aware, treated by medication, controlled,¥ or unaware of their condition, household population aged 20 to 79 years, Canada, 2009 to 2011

Description for Chart 2

Chart 2 Percentage with hypertension who are aware, treated by medication, controlled, or unaware of their condition, household population aged 20 to 79 years, Canada, 2009 to 2011,

About blood pressure

Blood pressure (BP) is a measure of the force of blood against the artery walls, and is expressed as systolic pressure (SBP)/diastolic pressure (DBP) in millimetres of mercury (e.g., 120/80 mmHg). The systolic pressure (top number) is the pressure when the heart contracts and pushes the blood out and the diastolic pressure (bottom number) is the lowest pressure when the heart relaxes between beats.

Blood pressure has many implications for health. High systolic blood pressure and/or high diastolic blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels and can result in heart attack or stroke, which are leading causes of hospitalization and death in Canada.

Table
Blood pressure classification in adults
Normal Mean SBP/DBP < 120/80 mmHg
Pre-hypertension Mean SBP of 120-139 mmHg and mean DBP of 80-89 mmHg OR
Mean SBP of 120-139 mmHg and mean DBP < 80 mmHg OR
Mean SBP < 120 mmHg and mean DBP of 80-89 mmHg
Hypertension Mean SBP/DBP of = 140/90 mmHg OR
Respondent reported using BP medication within the past month

References

  1. Wilkins K, Campbell NR, Joffres MR, et al. Blood pressure in Canadian adults. Health Reports. 2010;21(1):37-46.

For more information on the Canadian Health Measures Survey, please contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 613-951-8116; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).