Robert J. Petrella, MD, PhD, President, Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control; Associate Professor and Medical Director, Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging, University of Western Ontario, London, ON.
Hypertension is the leading reason for office visits to primary care physicians and is also the leading chronic disease of aging. Given the aging demographic in Canada, its burden on the health care system will grow, making prevention and treatment of hypertension a priority. Solid evidence regarding effective pharmacological therapies in hypertension is available, yet diagnosis and treatment rates remain poor. Likewise, solid evidence regarding the effect of non-pharmacological or lifestyle interventions also is available for clinicians. Furthermore, lifestyle interventions may potentiate the effects of pharmacological therapies due to their inherent modification of positive chronic disease behaviour, resulting in improved maintenance of treatment interventions. With pressure to see many patients in the busy primary care practice, clinicians should resist the "quick-fix" approach to treating hypertension solely by pharmacological means. Consideration of lifestyle modification is worth the time in terms of obtaining sustained control of a growing population at risk.
Key words: hypertension, lifestyle interventions, behaviour change.