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The CANHEART health index: a tool for monitoring the cardiovascular health of the Canadian population

Maclagan LC, Park J, Sanmartin C, Mathur KR, Roth D, Manuel DG, Gershon A, Booth GL, Bhatia S, Atzema CL, Tu JV. CMAJ. 2014; 186(3):180-7. Epub 2013 Dec 23.


Background — To comprehensively examine the cardiovascular health of Canadians, the authors developed the Cardiovascular Health in Ambulatory Care Research Team (CANHEART) health index. The authors analyzed trends in health behaviours and factors to monitor the cardiovascular health of the Canadian population.

Methods — The authors used data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2003-2011 [excluding 2005]; response rates 70%-81%) to examine trends in the prevalence of 6 cardio vascular health factors and behaviours (smoking, physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, overweight/obesity, diabetes and hypertension) among Canadian adults aged 20 or older. They defined ideal criteria for each of the 6 health metrics. The number of ideal metrics was summed to create the CANHEART health index; values range from 0 (worst) to 6 (best or ideal). A separate CANHEART index was developed for youth age 12-19 years; this index included 4 health factors and behaviours (smoking, physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption and overweight/obesity). The authors determined the prevalence of ideal cardiovascular health and the mean CANHEART health index score, stratified by age, sex and province.

Results — During the study period, physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption increased and smoking decreased among Canadian adults. The prevalence of overweight/ obesity, hypertension and diabetes increased. In 2009-2010, 9.4% of Canadian adults were in ideal cardiovascular health, 53.3% were in intermediate health (4-5 healthy factors or behaviours), and 37.3% were in poor cardiovascular health (0-3 healthy factors or behaviours). Twice as many women as men were in ideal cardiovascular health (12.8% vs. 6.1%). Among youth, the prevalence of smoking decreased and the prevalence of overweight/obesity increased. In 2009-2010, 16.6% of Canadian youth were in ideal cardiovascular health, 33.7% were in intermediate health (3 healthy factors or behaviours), and 49.7% were in poor cardiovascular health (0-2 healthy factors or behaviours).

Interpretation — Fewer than 1 in 10 Canadian adults and 1 in 5 Canadian youth were in ideal cardiovascular health from 2003 to 2011. Intensive health promotion activities are needed to meet the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada's goal of improving the cardiovascular health of Canadians by 10% by 2020 as measured by the CANHEART health index.

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Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases Risk assessment Screening and prevention

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