Effectiveness and safety of nicardipine and labetalol infusion for blood pressure management in patients with intracerebral and subarachnoid hemorrhage

Neurocrit Care. 2013 Feb;18(1):13-9. doi: 10.1007/s12028-012-9782-1.


Background: Nicardipine and labetalol are two commonly used antihypertensives for treating elevated blood pressures in the setting of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) and subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). There are no studies comparing these two agents as continuous infusions.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted of patients admitted between November 2009 and January 2011 with ICH and SAH to compare effectiveness and safety between both agents. Percent time spent at goal was set as the primary outcome. The secondary outcomes included blood pressure variability, time to goal, incidence of bradycardia, tachycardia, and hypotension.

Results: A total of 81 patients were available for analysis, 10 initiated on labetalol (LAB), 57 on nicardipine (NIC), and 14 required the combination of these agents (COMB) to reach goal. We found no difference between NIC, LAB, and the COMB groups in the median percent time at goal [88 % (61-98); 93 % (51-99); 66 % (25-95), (p = NS)]. Median percentage of blood pressure variability, hypotension, and bradycardia were also comparable between groups, however, more tachycardia was observed in the COMB group versus both LAB and NIC groups (45 vs. 0 vs. 3 %; p < 0.001). Mean time to goal SBP in 24 patients who had BP readings available at 1st h of initiation was 32 ± 34 min in the NIC group and 53 ± 42 min in the LAB group (p = 0.03).

Conclusions: Both agents appear equally effective and safe for blood pressure control in SAH and ICH during the initial admission hours. A prospective study is needed to validate these findings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / complications*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Early Medical Intervention
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Labetalol / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicardipine / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / complications*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Nicardipine
  • Labetalol