Conference Coverage

Minimize blood pressure peaks, variability after stroke reperfusion



The lower the blood pressure peaks and variability in the first 24 hours after ischemic stroke reperfusion, the better the outcomes, according to a review of 140 patients at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Investigators found that every 10–mm Hg increase in peak systolic pressure boosted the risk of in-hospital death 24% (P = .01) and reduced the chance of being discharged home or to a inpatient rehabilitation facility 13% (P = .03). Results were even stronger for peak mean arterial pressure, at 76% (P = .01) and 29% (P = .04), respectively; trends in the same direction for peak diastolic pressure were not statistically significant.

 Dr. Dinesh Jillella, an assistant professor of neurology at Emory University, Atlanta

Dr. Dinesh Jillella

Also, every 10–mm Hg increase in blood pressure variability again increased the risk of dying in the hospital, whether it was systolic (33%; P = .002), diastolic (33%; P = .03), or mean arterial pressure variability (58%; P = .02). Higher variability also reduced the chance of being discharged home or to a rehab 10%-20%, but the findings, although close, were not statistically significant.

Neurologists generally do what they can to control blood pressure after stroke, and the study confirms the need to do that. What’s new is that the work was limited to reperfusion patients – intravenous thrombolysis with alteplase in 83.5%, mechanical thrombectomy in 60%, with some having both – which has not been the specific focus of much research.

“Be much more aggressive in terms of making sure the variability is limited and limiting the peaks,” especially within 24 hours of reperfusion, said lead investigator and stroke neurologist Dinesh Jillella, MD, of Emory University, Atlanta, at the annual meeting of the American Neurological Association. “We want to be much more aggressive [with these patients]; it might limit our worse outcomes,” Dr. Jillella said. He conducted the review while in training at the University of New Mexico.

What led to the study is that Dr. Jillella and colleagues noticed that similar reperfusion patients can have very different outcomes, and he wanted to find modifiable risk factors that could account for the differences. The study did not address why high peaks and variability lead to worse outcomes, but he said hemorrhagic conversion might play a role.

It is also possible that higher pressures could be a marker of bad outcomes, as opposed to a direct cause, but the findings were adjusted for two significant confounders: age and the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score, which were both significantly higher in patients who did not do well. But after adjustment, “we [still] found an independent association with blood pressures and worse outcomes,” he said.

Higher peak systolic pressures and variability were also associated with about a 15% lower odds of leaving the hospital with a modified Rankin Scale score of 3 or less, which means the patient has some moderate disability but is still able to walk without assistance.

Patients were 69 years old on average, and about 60% were men. The majority were white. About a third had a modified Rankin Scale score at or below 3 at discharge, and about two-thirds were discharged home or to a rehabilitation facility; 17% of patients died in the hospital.

Differences in antihypertensive regimens were not associated with outcomes on univariate analysis. Dr. Jillella said that, ideally, he would like to run a multicenter, prospective trial of blood pressure reduction targets after reperfusion.

There was no external funding, and Dr. Jillella didn’t have any relevant disclosures.

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