A Third of Quebecers Do Not Adequately Manage their Diabetes, Hypertension and Hypercholesterolemia, Reveals CARTaGENE

CARTaGENE now accepting volunteers for the first time to further enrich Quebec's biobank

MONTREAL, April 22, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - A study based on the blood and health data of more than 20,000 Quebecers collected by the CARTaGENE project reveals that about 38% of Quebec adults with diabetes, 39% of those with hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol) and 31% of those with hypertension are inadequately managing their disease, despite having had their condition diagnosed by a doctor. CARTaGENE estimates that nearly one million Quebecers aged 45 and over are affected by at least one of these conditions. By conservative estimates, there would be over 500,000 Quebecers inadequately managing at least one of these three diseases.

Serious consequences

"It is extremely worrisome that this many Quebecers do not reach safe levels of blood sugar, cholesterol or blood pressure despite diagnosis," admits Dr. François Madore of the Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal and the University of Montreal, who co-directed the study. "For the patient, cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, and kidney failure are among the most serious potential consequences," adds his colleague, Dr. Stéphan Troyanov, the study's other co-director. "As a result, the costs of poor disease management of these three conditions on the Quebec health care system can easily add up to billions of dollars yearly."

Main cause: poor adherence to treatment

However, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol can, in most cases, be managed with treatment regimens that include lifestyle changes, medication and regular visits to the doctor. While optimal treatments do sometimes fail to reach therapeutic targets, the study concludes that treatment failure is most often caused by what the authors call "the absence of intervention".  The majority of such cases would be caused by non-compliance by the patient himself to prescribed treatment plans, for reasons that can vary from one person to another. According to the researchers, this observation is associated with socio-economic factors: "This study confirms that individuals from lower income and education levels tend to adhere less to prescribed treatments." In addition to non-adherence, Drs. Madore and Troyanov suspect that treatment plans that are poorly adapted to the individual, with respect to the dosage of medication for example, could also be a factor.

CARTaGENE now accepting volunteers for more studies

These revelations on the health of Quebecers would have been impossible without the existence of a biobank like CARTaGENE, believe the two researchers. Established in 2009, the CARTaGENE project collects blood samples and detailed information on the health and lifestyle of Quebecers for the benefits of health research, in accordance with very strict procedures that protect the confidentiality of participants. CARTaGENE recently reached its objective to recruit 17,000 new participants from Gatineau, Montréal, Québec, Saguenay, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières as part of its second recruitment wave, with a total of 37,000 participants enrolled to date. Another 3,000 participants are currently being recruited.

In addition, CARTaGENE has started to accept volunteer participants. "Since the beginning, we've been regularly hearing from Quebecers interested in contributing their health data to the biobank," says Alexandra Obadia, Executive Director of CARTaGENE. But CARTaGENE has had to turn them down since recruitment had to be randomized at first and focused on attaining specific regional targets in order to ensure that the biobank properly represented the population of Quebec. Now that this has nearly been achieved, participation has been opened up to all Quebecers aged 40 to 69.

"The goal now for CARTaGENE is to collect blood samples from more Quebecers, together with their health histories, and to build up our pool of participants for the future," explains Dr. Philip Awadalla, CARTaGENE 's leader and Principal Scientific Director, and professor of genetics at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre and the University of Montreal. "We're doing this to enable additional studies on more chronic diseases and on more aspects of the health of Quebecers, and to ensure the sustainability of the biobank into the future as some of the participants of the original cohort drop out of the study, move or pass away."

CARTaGENE currently stores blood samples from 26,000 Quebecers and aims to collect at least 4,000 more in the next few months. Quebecers interested in joining the project can submit their name via CARTaGENE's website. They will then be contacted by phone directly. "All volunteer participants will be asked to contribute a small amount of blood, about three tablespoons worth," indicates Alexandra Obadia. "Collection centers have been set up in Gatineau, Montréal, Québec, Saguenay, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières. We'll be thrilled if Quebecers from other regions are willing to make the trip to participate." "All volunteers should know they will be making a tremendous contribution to advancing science and improving the health of future generations," adds Dr. Awadalla.

SOURCE Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center

For further information: Media contact: Eloi Courchesne 514-923-3564, eloi@ecourchesne.com; For more information on CARTaGENE, visit www.cartagene.qc.ca/en