Ups and downs of hypertension control in Canada: critical factors and lessons learned

Campbell et al.

As the leading risk for death, population control of increased blood pressure represents a major challenge for all countries of the Americas. In the early 1990’s, Canada had a hypertension control rate of 13%. The control rate increased to 68% in 2010, accompanied by a sharp decline in cardiovascular disease. The unprecedented improvement in hypertension control started around the year 2000 when a comprehensive program to implement annually updated hypertension treatment recommendations started. The program included a comprehensive monitoring system for hypertension control. After 2011, there was a marked decrease in emphasis on implementation and evaluation and the hypertension control rate declined, driven by a reduction in control in women from 69% to 49%. A coalition of health and scientific organizations formed in 2011 with a priority to develop advocacy positions for dietary policies to prevent and control hypertension. By 2015, the positions were adopted by most federal political parties, but implementation has been slow.

This manuscript reviews key success factors and learnings. Some key success factors included having broad representation on the program steering committee, multidisciplinary engagement with substantive primary care involvement, unbiased up to date credible recommendations, development and active adaptation of education resources based on field experience, extensive implementation of primary care resources, annual review of the program and hypertension indicators and developing and emphasizing the few interventions important for hypertension control. Learnings included the need for having strong national and provincial government engagement and support, and retaining primary care organizations and clinicians in the implementation
and evaluation.

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Opinion and analysis