05/20/2010 - Articles

Trends in heart disease in Canada

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


We know much more about heart disease than we did 50 years ago. High blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and smoking are all risk factors for heart disease and their importance has been uncovered by medical research. At the same time, there are now many treatments for heart disease, such as angioplasty, and a plethora of drugs for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. So what effect has the new understanding of heart disease had on people’s health?

Researchers in Ontario, Canada, have been reviewing trends in heart disease in the Canadian population over the time period 1994 to 2005. They focused upon those aged 25 to 84 living in Ontario and measured mortality from heart disease. Between 1994 and 2005, deaths from heart disease went down from 191 deaths to 125 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, which is a decrease of 35% and represents 7585 fewer deaths from heart disease in 2005. 

The researchers attribute this change roughly equally to improvements in risk factors like high blood pressure and improvements in treatments. This is good news but there is still some way to go. Some of those at risk don’t realize it and, if they do, they may not be making the necessary lifestyle changes to avoid heart disease. Also, treatments that would help avoid the consequences of heart disease are not always available to all those who would benefit. The researchers noted that increases in obesity and diabetes are starting to threaten these gains in heart health and need to be addressed, lest we slip backwards.



Wijeysundera H et al Association of temporal trends in risk factors and treatment uptake with coronary heart disease mortality 1994-2005 Journal of the American Medical Association May 11 2010;303:1841-1847


Created on: 05/19/2010
Reviewed on: 05/20/2010

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