Early versus delayed antihypertensive treatment in patients with acute ischaemic stroke: multicentre, open label, randomised, controlled trial

BMJ. 2023 Oct 9:383:e076448. doi: 10.1136/bmj-2023-076448.


Objectives: To compared the effect of early antihypertensive treatment started within 24-48 h of stroke onset versus delaying treatment until day eight on reducing dependency or death.

Design: Multicentre, randomised, open label trial.

Setting: 106 hospitals in China between 13 June 2018 and 10 July 2022.

Participants: 4810 patients (≥40 years) were enrolled with acute ischaemic stroke within 24-48 h of symptom onset and elevated systolic blood pressure between 140 mm Hg and <220 mm Hg.

Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to receive antihypertensive treatment immediately after randomisation (aimed at reducing systolic blood pressure by 10%-20% within the first 24 h and a mean blood pressure <140/90 mm Hg within seven days) or to discontinue antihypertensive medications for seven days if they were taking them, and then receive treatment on day 8 (aimed at achieving mean blood pressure <140/90 mm Hg).

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was the combination of functional dependency or death (modified Rankin scale score ≥3) at 90 days. Intention to treat analyses were conducted.

Results: 2413 patients were assigned to the early treatment group and 2397 were assigned to the delayed treatment group. Mean systolic blood pressure was reduced by 9.7% (from 162.9 mm Hg to 146.4 mm Hg) in the early treatment group and by 4.9% (from 162.8 mm Hg to 154.3 mm Hg) in the delayed treatment group within 24 h after randomisation (P for group difference <0.001). Mean systolic blood pressure was 139.1 mm Hg in the early treatment group and 150.9 mm Hg in the delayed treatment group on day seven (P for group difference <0.001). Additionally, 54.6% of patients in the early treatment group and 22.4% in the delayed treatment group had blood pressure of less than 140/90 mm Hg (P<0.001 for group difference) on day seven. At day 90, 289 trial participants (12.0%) in the early treatment group, compared with 250 (10.5%) in the delayed treatment group, had died or experienced a dependency (odds ratio 1.18 (95% confidence interval 0.98 to 1.41), P=0.08). No significant differences in recurrent stroke or adverse events were reported between the two groups.

Conclusions: Among patients with mild-to-moderate acute ischaemic stroke and systolic blood pressure between 140 mm Hg and <220 mm Hg who did not receive intravenous thrombolytic treatment, early antihypertensive treatment did not reduce the odds of dependency or death at 90 days.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT03479554.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Blood Pressure
  • Brain Ischemia* / complications
  • Brain Ischemia* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / complications
  • Hypertension* / drug therapy
  • Hypotension*
  • Ischemic Stroke*
  • Stroke* / complications
  • Stroke* / drug therapy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antihypertensive Agents

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03479554