Intensive Blood Pressure Lowering Potentially Harmful in ICH

Intensive systolic blood pressure (SBP) lowering in patients with intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) and excessively high initial SBP does not improve outcomes and is linked to safety concerns, new research shows.

Investigators found that ICH patients whose initial SBP was 220 mmHg and who underwent intensive BP lowering had twice the relative risk for neurologic deterioration at 24 hours without any reduction in hematoma expansion or 3-month risk for death and disability compared to their counterparts who underwent standard SBP lowering.

“The significantly higher rate of neurological deterioration associated with intensive treatment in patients with initial systolic blood pressure of 220 mm Hg or more warrants caution against broad recommendations for intensive systolic blood pressure reduction in patients with intracerebral hemorrhage,” the investigators, led by Iryna Lobanova, MD, Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute, University of Missouri, in Columbia, write.

The study was published online September 8 in JAMA Neurology.

Efficacy Unknown

American Heart Association and American Stroke Association guidelines recommend lowering SBP to 140 mmHg for ICH patients whose SBP is between 150 mmHg and 220 mmHg. However, guideline authors note that the safety and efficacy of intensive SBP lowering for patients with SBP >220 mmHg “appears to be unknown.”

To evaluate the safety and efficacy of intensive SBP reduction for ICH patients with excessively high initial SBP, the investigators analyzed data from the Antihypertensive Treatment of Acute Cerebral Hemorrhage–II (ATACH-II) trial, which compared intensive and standard SBP reduction for patients with spontaneous supratentorial ICH.

Eligible participants had SBP >180 mmHg on two measurements. The first measurement that was recorded in the emergency department was considered the initial SBP.

Consistent with practice guidelines, treatment to lower SBP before randomization was permitted. The SBP measurement recorded immediately before randomization was the prerandomization SBP.

The treatment goal was to reduce SBP to a target range of 140 mmHg to 179 mmHg in the standard reduction group and 110 mmHg to 139 mmHg in the intensive reduction group over 24 hours.

The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who died or experienced severe disability at 90 days, defined as a Modified Rankin Scale score of 4 to 6.

Secondary outcomes included neurologic deterioration, as determined by the Glasgow Coma Scale or the NIH Stroke Scale, as well as hematoma expansion and hypotension.

Neurologic Deterioration

The study included 999 participants. Of these, 228 had an initial SBP of ≥220 mmHg. The mean age was significantly less in the excessively high SBP group than in the lower SBP group, at 59.0 and 62.8 years, respectively.

The mean minimum SBP at 6 to 7 hours and at 23 to 24 hours after randomization was significantly higher among the high SBP group than the lower SBP group.

Of the 228 patients whose initial SBP was ≥220 mmHg, 110 were randomly assigned to intensive SBP reduction, and 118 were assigned to standard SBP reduction. These two treatment groups did not differ significantly with respect to age or sex distribution.

Results showed that among participants with excessively high SBP, the