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Heart Disease Prevalence Increasing in Canada

Highest rates of cardiovascular disease risk factors observed in poorer Canadians

THURSDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- In Canada, heart disease prevalence and cardiovascular disease risk factors are increasing among nearly all income groups, according to a study published online July 20 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Douglas S. Lee, M.D., of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, and colleagues analyzed 1994 to 2005 data from the National Population Health Surveys and the Canadian Community Health Surveys.

Between 1994 and 2005, the researchers found that the prevalence of heart disease increased by 19.3 percent in men and 2.1 percent in women. They observed greater increases among Canadians with low and low-middle incomes (27 and 37 percent, respectively) than in those with the highest income (5.6 percent). They also found that the prevalence of diabetes significantly increased among all but the highest income group, and that the prevalence of hypertension and obesity increased in all income groups.

"Despite the universality of health care access in Canada, there were widening gaps in hypertension and diabetes prevalence between the highest and lowest socioeconomic groups," the authors conclude. "There is great potential for more cardiovascular disease and worsening disparities in the future unless preventative efforts are afforded to these vulnerable groups. Interventions to encourage healthy eating, exercise, and provision of affordable preventative medications, such as smoking cessation therapy, to at-risk groups may help reduce these disparities."

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