A prospective evaluation of labetalol versus nicardipine for blood pressure management in patients with acute stroke

Neurocrit Care. 2013 Aug;19(1):41-7. doi: 10.1007/s12028-013-9863-9.


Introduction: Acute hypertension is common following stroke and contributes to poor outcomes. Labetalol and nicardipine are often used for acute hypertension but there are little data comparing the two. This study is to evaluate the therapeutic response and tolerability of these two agents following acute stroke.

Methods: This is a prospective, pseudo-randomized study comparing labetalol and nicardipine for blood pressure (BP) management in acute stroke patients. Patients who presented to the emergency department (ED) with confirmed hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke received either labetalol or nicardipine for 24 h from ED admission. Therapeutic response was assessed by achievement of goal BP, time spent within goal, and variability in BP. Clinical outcomes including length of stay, clinical status at discharge, and in-hospital mortality were recorded.

Results: 54 patients were enrolled (labetalol = 28; nicardipine = 26) with 25 ± 6 BP measurements per patient. Majority of patients had a hemorrhagic stroke and baseline characteristics were similar between groups. All patients who received nicardipine achieved goal BP compared to 17 (61 %) in the labetalol group (p < 0.001) with 89 % nicardipine-treated patients achieved goal BP within 60 min of drug initiation versus 25 % in labetalol group (p < 0.001). Nicardipine group had better maintenance of BP, a greater percentage of time spent within goal, and significantly less BP variability compared to labetalol group (p < 0.001). Less rescue antihypertensive agents were given to nicardipine group than labetalol group (p < 0.001). The incidences of adverse drug events were similar between groups and there were no differences in clinical outcomes.

Conclusion: In acutely hypertensive stroke patients, superior therapeutic response was achieved with nicardipine versus labetalol. Despite this, there was no demonstrable difference in clinical outcomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antihypertensive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antihypertensive Agents / adverse effects
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Hypertension / mortality
  • Labetalol / administration & dosage*
  • Labetalol / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicardipine / administration & dosage*
  • Nicardipine / adverse effects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Nicardipine
  • Labetalol