Blood pressure surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation of programs to prevent and control hypertension are critical because increased blood pressure is a leading risk for premature death and disability. Since 2003, the Hypertension Outcomes Research Task Force has existed in Canada, with members who assist in the development and revision of surveys and conduct analyses that help guide hypertension programs. Although the Task Force has tracked a 5-fold increase in the control of hypertension (from 13% in 1985-1992 to 65% in 2007-2009), surveillance data also indicate that many "care gaps" remain. Fifty-four percent of people with diabetes and 34% of those without diabetes have blood pressure readings greater than their target. Treatment rates are high in those who are diagnosed (95%), but 17% of people with hypertension remain undiagnosed. Younger men (more so than women) are too often unaware of having hypertension. Although they are more likely to be aware of their diagnosis, older women are 2 times more likely to have uncontrolled hypertension than men; systolic blood pressure is high in over 80% of those with uncontrolled blood pressure (90% in women); and often people with hypertension are not provided comprehensive advice on healthy behaviours, or assisted in developing plans to control their blood pressure. Many current surveys do not have adequate statistical power to assess vulnerable populations; surveys of Aboriginal populations do not usually assess blood pressure, such that the burden of hypertension in these high risk populations cannot be assessed.
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