Skip to main content

New Shoppers Drug Mart data suggest pandemic has led to decreased high blood pressure diagnosis and treatment

a man wearing a suit and tie

In new data, Shoppers Drug Mart expressed concern over the rise in prevalence of hypertension, especially during the pandemic.

High blood pressure (hypertension) has been a concern for Canadian healthcare practitioners for years, as the most important risk factor for premature death and disability. Hypertension is growing in prevalence, however, its levels of diagnosis and management are decreasing, which could lead to an enormous cost to patients' quality of life and the healthcare system. Shoppers Drug Mart is sharing data that suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a reduction in hypertension diagnoses and treatment, an early warning sign for potential longer-term risks, like higher rates of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.

"Pre-pandemic, hypertension impacted one-in-four Canadians, growing on pace to hit one-in-three by 2030. At a time when pandemic lifestyle changes – like less movement, more stress, more eating, and increased alcohol consumption – should be driving the number of patients seeking treatment higher, we've actually seen a decline. This is a pandemic effect and suggests hundreds of thousands of Canadians simply don't know that their health needs attention," said Jeff Leger, President, Shoppers Drug Mart.

Data indicates that in-person physician visits have decreased by up to 79 percent1, since March 2020, as Canadians stayed home or avoided healthcare settings. At the same time, Shoppers Drug Mart data showed up to 30 percent fewer new patients starting medications generally used to treat hypertension than in the previous years. This trend has improved slightly with relaxing COVID restrictions. However, a comparison of 2021 and 2019 data suggests nearly one-in-five expected hypertension patients are either not seeking treatment or unaware that they need it.

Left undetected or uncontrolled, hypertension can cause serious long-term health consequences, including heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. This can significantly increase the overall costs to Canadians, including shortened lifespans, deteriorated quality of life, and significant additional burden on the healthcare system. 

"Detected early, hypertension can be managed through appropriate clinical care including lifestyle changes like diet and exercise and medications," continued Leger, "As healthcare professionals, we're sharing this data to encourage Canadians to talk to their physician or pharmacist to have their blood pressure checked."

1 CMAJ 2021 February 8;193:E200-10. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.202303

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds