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CMAJ. 2012 Jan 10;184(1):E49-56. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.101863. Epub 2011 Nov 21.

Diagnosed hypertension in Canada: incidence, prevalence and associated mortality.

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Chronic Disease Surveillance and Monitoring Division, Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Ont.



Hypertension is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Our objectives were to examine the prevalence and incidence of diagnosed hypertension in Canada and compare mortality among people with and without diagnosed hypertension.


We obtained data from linked health administrative databases from each province and territory for adults aged 20 years and older. We used a validated case definition to identify people with hypertension diagnosed between 1998/99 and 2007/08. We excluded pregnant women from the analysis.


This retrospective population-based study included more than 26 million people. In 2007/08, about 6 million adults (23.0%) were living with diagnosed hypertension and about 418,000 had a new diagnosis. The age-standardized prevalence increased significantly from 12.5% in 1998/99 to 19.6% in 2007/08, and the incidence decreased from 2.7 to 2.4 per 100. Among people aged 60 years and older, the prevalence was higher among women than among men, as was the incidence among people aged 75 years and older. The prevalence and incidence were highest in the Atlantic region. For all age groups, all-cause mortality was higher among adults with diagnosed hypertension than among those without diagnosed hypertension.


The overall prevalence of diagnosed hypertension in Canada from 1998 to 2008 was high and increasing, whereas the incidence declined during the same period. These findings highlight the need to continue monitoring the effectiveness of efforts for managing hypertension and to enhance public health programs aimed at preventing hypertension.

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