November 9, 2021

New estimates suggest that the pandemic has led to decreased high blood pressure diagnosis and treatment in potentially hundreds of thousands of Canadians

Shoppers Drug Mart shares data on hypertension in Canadians and the potential long-term health effects of the undiagnosed

November 9, 2021. Toronto, ON.   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 Dr. Peter Bafundi, family practitioner at The Health Clinic by Shoppers.

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,” said Jeff Leger, President, Shoppers Drug Mart. “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

About Shoppers Drug Mart

Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. is one of the most recognized and trusted names in Canadian retailing. The company is the licensor of full-service retail drug stores operating under the name Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Québec). With more than 1,300 Shoppers Drug Mart® and Pharmaprix® stores operating in prime locations in each province and two territories, the company is one of the most convenient retailers in Canada. The company also licenses or owns 47 medical clinic pharmacies operating under the name Shoppers Simply Pharmacy® (Pharmaprix Simplement Santé® in Québec), and provides cosmetic dermatology services at two standalone The Beauty Clinic by ShoppersTM locations. As well, the company owns and operates 43 corporate Wellwise by Shoppers Drug MartTM stores and an ecommerce site, making it the largest Canadian retailer of home health care products and services. In addition to its retail store network, the company owns the Medical Cannabis by Shoppers online platform for the sale of medical cannabis, Shoppers Drug Mart Specialty Health Network Inc., a provider of specialty drug distribution, pharmacy and comprehensive patient support services, and MediSystem Inc., a provider of pharmaceutical products and services to long-term care facilities. Shoppers Drug Mart is an independent operating division of Loblaw Companies Limited.

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