Background: Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) is a poorly understood condition with devastating results. Despite the personal and social impact of ICH, modern medicine can offer little hope. Surgery is the longest-standing therapy, but with no demonstrated evidence of positive effect. Reduction of the early hypertension seen with ICH is believed to limit hematoma growth and improve clinical outcome. The effectiveness and safety of an early, aggressive blood-pressure-lowering strategy for ICH patients has only recently been examined in randomized controlled trials.
Clinical question: Does early, intensive lowering of blood pressure reduce hematoma volume and improve clinical outcome after acute cerebral hemorrhage?
Evidence review: Two trials assessing the clinical impact of blood pressure lowering in intracerebral hemorrhage were acquired and appraised.
Results: The two randomized trials incorporated similar parallel designs and both trials measured clinical outcomes and short-term change in hematoma size. The smaller trial was only partially blinded and showed no difference in any of the outcomes; the large trial demonstrated marginal reduction in proportional hematoma growth, but no significant difference in clinical outcome.
Conclusions: There is currently insufficient evidence to support the routine practice of lowering blood pressure of patients suffering an acute intracerebral hemorrhage.