Health Fact Sheets
Blood pressure of adults, 2012 to 2015

Release date: October 13, 2016

Blood pressure has many implications for health. High systolic blood pressure (SBP) and/or high diastolic blood pressure (DBP) can cause damage to blood vessels and can result in cardiovascular disease or events, such as heart attack or stroke, which are among the leading causes of hospitalization and death in Canada.Note 1Note 2

Results from the 2012 to 2015Note 3 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) indicate that Canadian adults aged 20 to 79 had a measured average resting blood pressure of 113/72 mmHg. For both males and females, average resting blood pressure increased significantly with age (Chart 1). The average resting blood pressure for males aged 20 to 29 was 107/69 mmHg, compared with 123/70 mmHg for males aged 70 to 79. The average resting blood pressure for females aged 20 to 29 was 101/66 mmHg, compared with 128/70 mmHg for females aged 70 to 79. Average resting systolic blood pressure tended to be significantly higher for males in younger age groups (aged 20 to 49) but significantly lower for males in the oldest age group (aged 70 to 79) compared with females in those same age groups. Average resting diastolic blood pressure was higher among middle aged males 50 to 59 compared with females of the same age group.

Data table for Chart 1
Data table for chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 1 Age Group and mmHg (appearing as column headers).
  Age Group mmHg
Systolic blood pressure (males) 20 to 29 107
30 to 39 111
40 to 49 115
50 to 59 118
60 to 69 120
70 to 79 123
Systolic blood pressure (females) 20 to 29 101
30 to 39 105
40 to 49 108
50 to 59 116
60 to 69 120
70 to 79 128
Diastolic blood pressure (males) 20 to 29 69
30 to 39 74
40 to 49 77
50 to 59 78
60 to 69 75
70 to 79 70
Diastolic blood pressure (females) 20 to 29 66
30 to 39 69
40 to 49 70
50 to 59 72
60 to 69 71
70 to 79 70

Hypertension

Hypertension is defined as a measured systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mmHg, a measured diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90 mmHg, a self-reported diagnosis of high blood pressure, or the self-reported use of anti-hypertensive medication. Hypertension was prevalent in 24% of Canadian adults aged 20 to 79 in 2012 to 2015. The prevalence of hypertension increased significantly with age, such that 53% of Canadians aged 60 to 79 self-reported that they had been diagnosed with hypertension by a health-care professional, were taking anti-hypertensive medication, or had high measured blood pressure. Meanwhile, 24% of adults aged 40 to 59 and less than 5% of adults aged 20 to 39 were considered to be hypertensive (data not shown).

Approximately 18% of Canadian adults with measured hypertension were unaware of their condition (chart 2). Fourteen percent were aware of their condition and treated by medication but the condition was not controlled (i.e. reported taking medication for high blood pressure yet had a measured blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg), and another 4% were aware of their condition but were not treated. Sixty-five percent of Canadian adults with hypertension were aware of their condition and were controlling it through medication use.  

Data table for Chart 2
Data table for chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 2. The information is grouped by Section (appearing as row headers), percent (appearing as column headers).
Section percent
Treated by medication and controlled 65
Treated by medication, not controlled 14
Aware, not treated 4Note E: Use with caution
Unaware 18

An important risk factor for hypertension is being overweight or obese.Note 4 Results from the CHMS show that measured hypertension was more than twice as likely to occur among adults who were overweight or obese, compared with their normal-weight counterparts (Chart 3). Hypertension was prevalent in 30% of Canadian adults who were classified as being overweight or obese, compared with 12% of those who were normal weight. Overweight or obese adults aged 60 to 79 had the highest prevalence of hypertension (57%), while adults aged 20 to 39 had the lowest, regardless of weight status (no significant difference between normal weight or overweight/obese for 20-to-39-year olds).

Data table for Chart 3
Data table for chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 3 Normal weight and Overweight/obese, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
    Normal weight Overweight/obese
percent
Sex Total 12.1 30.0
Males 13.0 30.4
Females 11.5 29.6
Age group 20 to 39 Note F: too unreliable to be published 7.3
40 to 59 13.6 29.2
60 to 79 39.8 57.3

 

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About blood pressure

Blood pressure (BP) is a measure of the force of blood against the artery walls, and is expressed as systolic blood pressure (SBP)/diastolic blood 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.

The CHMS measured resting blood pressure using an automated device (BPTru™) following a five minute rest period. The BPTru™ recorded six measurements, one minute apart. The average SBP and DBP were calculated using the last five of the six measurements. Respondents were also asked to report if they have ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure by a health care professional or if they have taken medication for high blood pressure in the past month.

The criteria for blood pressure classification in adults are as follows:

Criteria for blood pressure classification in adults
Table summary
This table displays the results of Criteria for blood pressure classification in adults . The information is grouped by Category (appearing as row headers), Description (appearing as column headers).
Category Description
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 ≥ 140 mmHg OR
Mean DBP ≥ 90 mmHg OR
Self-reported use of medication for high blood pressure within the past month OR
Self-reported having been diagnosed with hypertension by a health-care professional

Data

Canadian Health Measures Survey data related to this fact sheet are available in CANSIM tables 117-0001, 117-0005, 117-0008 and 117-0009.

For more information on the Canadian Health Measures Survey, please contact Statistics Canada's Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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