Rapid blood pressure reduction in acute intracerebral hemorrhage: feasibility and safety

Neurocrit Care. 2008;8(3):316-21. doi: 10.1007/s12028-008-9085-8.


Background: The optimal blood pressure (BP) for treating acute intracerebral hemorrhage remains (ICH) uncertain. High BP may contribute to hematoma growth while excessive BP reduction might precipitate peri-hemorrhage ischemia. We examine here the feasibility and safety of reducing BP to lower than presently recommended levels in patients with acute ICH.

Methods: Patients with ICH were prospectively randomized to standard BP treatment (mean arterial BP [MAP] 110-130 mmHg) or aggressive BP lowering (MAP < 110 mmHg) within 8 h of symptom onset. MAP was managed during the 48 h treatment period. NIHSS was obtained at baseline, 24, and 48 h. Brain CT was done 24 h after symptoms. A modified Rankin Scale (mRs) was obtained at 90 days. A clinical decline (NIHSS drop > or = 2 points) within the first 48 h was the primary endpoint. Hematoma enlargement at 24 h was a secondary endpoint.

Results: We enrolled 21 patients into each group. Mean age was 60.6 +/- 12.3 years and MAP on presentation was 147.6 +/- 18.2 mmHg. Treatment was started on average 3.2 +/- 2.2 h after symptom onset. Baseline clinical variables were identical between the 2 treatment groups. Target blood pressure was achieved within 87.1 +/- 59.6 min in the standard group and 163.5 +/- 163.8 min in the aggressive BP treatment group. There were no significant differences in early neurological deterioration, hematoma and edema growth, and clinical outcome at 90 days.

Conclusion: A more aggressive reduction of acute hypertension after ICH does not increase the rate of neurological deterioration even when treatment is initiated within hours of symptom onset. Lowering BP aggressively did not affect hematoma and edema expansion but this possibility deserves further study.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Antihypertensive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antihypertensive Agents / adverse effects
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Brain Edema / drug therapy
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Hematoma / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage, Hypertensive / drug therapy*
  • Labetalol / administration & dosage*
  • Labetalol / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Labetalol