Although Canadians have a high awareness of many chronic conditions and diseases such as cancer and diabetes, they are less aware of an equally life-threatening condition – hypertension. A recent Ipsos survey commissioned by Dairy Farmers of Canada found that 59 per cent of Canadians are concerned with developing high blood pressure – even though, in reality, 90 per cent will be diagnosed in their lifetime.
World Hypertension Day is marked on May 1.
“With Canadians facing such a high risk of developing high blood pressure, we all need to make healthy lifestyle choices, like striving towards a more balanced diet,” says Nathalie Savoie, Registered Dietitian and Assistant Director, Nutrition, Dairy Farmers of Canada, said in Mississauga on Tuesday. “One of the tools to help prevent or manage your blood pressure is to eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as an adequate amount of milk product every day. In fact, milk products contain potassium, magnesium, calcium and protein, all of which have been shown to effectively help maintain a healthy blood pressure.”
Known as the silent killer, an estimated one in six people do not know they have high blood pressure, with over six million Canadian adults affected by the condition. High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for death due to stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease. If left untreated, it can lead to coronary artery disease, dementia, heart and kidney failure, and other chronic diseases. However, the condition can be prevented or managed through lifestyle changes.
High blood pressure is classified as either primary (essential) high blood pressure or secondary high blood pressure. About 90–95% of cases are primary, defined as high blood pressure due to nonspecific lifestyle and genetic factors. Lifestyle factors that increase the risk include excess salt, excess body weight, smoking, and alcohol. The remaining 5–10% of cases are categorized as secondary high blood pressure, defined as high blood pressure due to an identifiable cause, such as chronic kidney disease, narrowing of the kidney arteries, an endocrine disorder, or the use of birth control pills.
Blood pressure is expressed by two measurements, the systolic and diastolic pressures, which are the maximum and minimum pressures, respectively. Normal blood pressure at rest is within the range of 100–140 millimeters mercury (mmHg) systolic and 60–90 mmHg diastolic. High blood pressure is present if the resting blood pressure is persistently at or above 140/90 mmHg for most adults. Different numbers apply to children. Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring over a 24-hour period appears more accurate than office best blood pressure measurement.
Other key survey findings include:
- Canadians tend to attribute lifestyle (51 per cent) as a greater cause of high blood pressure than age (22 per cent). However, the risk of developing high blood pressure drastically increases with age; more than 50 per cent of Canadians over the age of 60 live with high blood pressure.
- Most Canadians think that high blood pressure is more common in men than women. However, by age 60, it is actually more common among females – with more than half of all women being diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Registered Dietitians at Dairy Farmers Canada encourage Canadians to download the free Get Enough Helper App. For each day that the app is used, Dairy Farmers of Canada will donate one dollar to one of the following great causes: Heart and Stroke Foundation, Osteoporosis Canada or Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada(up to a maximum of $100,000 per organization).
For more information on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and to download the Get Enough Helper App, visit getenough.ca. – CINEWS/CNW