Early lowering of blood pressure after acute intracerebral haemorrhage: A systematic review and meta-analysis of individual patient data

Tom J. Moullaali, Xia Wang, Else Charlotte Sandset, Lisa J. Woodhouse, Zhe Kang Law, Hisatomi Arima, Kenneth S. Butcher, John Chalmers, Candice Delcourt, Leon Edwards, Salil Gupta, Wen Jiang, Sebastian Koch, John Potter, Adnan I. Qureshi, Thompson G. Robinson, Rustam Al-Shahi Salman, Jeffrey L. Saver, Nikola Sprigg, Joanna M. WardlawCraig S. Anderson, Philip M. Bath, On behalf of the Blood Pressure in Acute Stroke (BASC) Investigators

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Objective To summarise evidence of the effects of blood pressure (BP)-lowering interventions after acute spontaneous intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH). Methods A prespecified systematic review of the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE and MEDLINE databases from inception to 23 June 2020 to identify randomised controlled trials that compared active BP-lowering agents versus placebo or intensive versus guideline BP-lowering targets for adults <7 days after ICH onset. The primary outcome was function (distribution of scores on the modified Rankin scale) 90 days after randomisation. Radiological outcomes were absolute (>6 mL) and proportional (>33%) haematoma growth at 24 hours. Meta-analysis used a one-stage approach, adjusted using generalised linear mixed models with prespecified covariables and trial as a random effect. Results Of 7094 studies identified, 50 trials involving 11 494 patients were eligible and 16 (32.0%) shared patient-level data from 6221 (54.1%) patients (mean age 64.2 [SD 12.9], 2266 [36.4%] females) with a median time from symptom onset to randomisation of 3.8 hours (IQR 2.6–5.3). Active/intensive BP-lowering interventions had no effect on the primary outcome compared with placebo/ guideline treatment (adjusted OR for unfavourable shift in modified Rankin scale scores: 0.97, 95% CI 0.88 to 1.06; p=0.50), but there was significant heterogeneity by strategy (p interaction=0.031) and agent (p interaction <0.0001). Active/ intensive BP-lowering interventions clearly reduced absolute (>6 ml, adjusted OR 0.75, 95%CI 0.60 to 0.92; p=0.0077) and relative (≥33%, adjusted OR 0.82, 95%CI 0.68 to 0.99; p=0.034) haematoma growth. Interpretation Overall, a broad range of interventions to lower BP within 7 days of ICH onset had no overall benefit on functional recovery, despite reducing bleeding. The treatment effect appeared to vary according to strategy and agent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-13
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • meta-analysis
  • stroke

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