NewsHealth chiefs urge return of Canadian hypertension scheme

Health chiefs urge return of Canadian hypertension scheme

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Philadelphia, February 26, 2024 – In a compelling appeal for the resurrection of Canada’s health coalition dedicated to hypertension prevention and control, a poignant editorial surfaces in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, published by Elsevier. Esteemed healthcare leaders emphasize the critical need for a national hypertension control program to avert fatalities and disabilities.

Lead author Norm R.C. Campbell, MD, from the Department of Medicine at the University of Calgary, asserts, “Hypertension stands as a foremost cause of death and disability in Canada, contributing to approximately one in five deaths globally (19.2%). Yet, this toll can be significantly reduced. Over my healthcare career, I have actively worked towards controlling hypertension within our population. Canada, in the past, stood out as the most successful country in hypertension control, making it imperative to revive our national efforts and regain that distinction.”

The editorial delineates the instrumental role played by Canadian coalitions in the prevention and control of hypertension. In Canada, healthcare delivery is a provincial and territorial responsibility, with the federal government overseeing national standards through the Canada Health Act and various nutrition policies. Recognizing the disease burden associated with elevated blood pressure, federal and provincial governments jointly initiated a hypertension strategy in 1986, urging a coalition of governmental and non-governmental organizations to spearhead strategy implementation.

Professor Campbell laments, “In recent years, I have witnessed the deterioration of the Canadian hypertension control coalition and program, while other nations are fortifying their national initiatives. Consequently, hypertension control in Canada has been on the decline for the past decade. Establishing and maintaining a national program is paramount to saving lives.”

Ross Tsuyuki, PharmD, President of Hypertension Canada, echoes Professor Campbell’s concerns, stating, “Hypertension Canada is deeply troubled by the waning control of blood pressure leading to increased mortality and disability among Canadians. We must overcome complacency and re-establish a coalition, bringing stakeholders—healthcare providers and governments—together to address this pressing issue.”

Patrice Lindsay, RN, PhD, Lead for PWLE Engagement and Stroke Strategy at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, emphasizes, “High blood pressure is acknowledged by Heart & Stroke as the leading risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease. We strongly endorse initiatives fostering measurable increases in diagnosis, treatment, and control of high blood pressure to reduce death and hospitalization from cardiovascular disease.”

The prevention of high blood pressure can be approached through various avenues:

Public health interventions, including the promotion of healthy diets, regular physical activity, reduced alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy body weight.
Clinical interventions, involving lifestyle advice and drug treatments.
Professor Campbell underscores, “Healthy lifestyles face challenges in our unhealthy environments, requiring time and substantial support. Drug treatment is highly effective and swift, offering potential cost savings. Regrettably, clinical interventions are on the decline.”

Addressing the global model for preventing non-communicable diseases (NCD), which account for a substantial portion of deaths and disabilities in Canada, Professor Campbell advocates for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) HEARTS initiative. Utilizing hypertension control as the “entry point” for NCD prevention and control in primary care, HEARTS presents a proven global model.

Professor Campbell concludes, “In the words of Winston Churchill, ‘never let a good crisis go to waste.’ Canada now has an opportunity to build a robust, collaborative federated health system grounded in global best practices to combat our major causes of death and disability, enhancing quality of life and curbing health costs. It requires strong collaboration, aligning with the current global best practice of WHO HEARTS.”

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