The Alberta Heart Health Survey is a population-based investigation of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor prevalence and awareness among Albertans 18 to 74 years of age.
A stratified, two-stage, replicated probability sample design developed by Statistics Canada was used to select 3437 individuals (2740 were located) from the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan enrollment list. Trained community health nurses (n = 36) from 13 public health units conducted home interviews (n = 2237, response rate 82%) and subsequent clinic visits (n = 1993) from February to June 1990, using a core protocol common to similar studies conducted in other provinces, as part of the Canadian Heart Health Initiative.
The home interview collected data on individual and household demographic characteristics, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, treatment and control of high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, and family history of CVD. Clinic visits included blood collection for analysis of total plasma cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides; weight, height, waist and hip circumference, and two blood pressure measurements. Standardized protocols were used. Lipid analyses were conducted by the Lipid Research Laboratory, University of Toronto. Data management and analysis were conducted at the University of Alberta.
The overall risk factor prevalence estimates were: high blood pressure 14%; smoking 27%; total cholesterol of at least 5.2 mmol/L, 36%; HDL cholesterol less than 0.9 mmol/L, 10%; LDL cholesterol of at least 3.4 mmol/L, 29%; body mass index 25 or more, 51%; sedentary lifestyle 37%. One or more of the three major risk factors (smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol) occurred in 57% (70% in those with 12 years of education or less).
While the prevalence rates for the major risk factors are among the lowest in Canada, they are unacceptably high.