Continuing or Temporarily Stopping Prestroke Antihypertensive Medication in Acute Stroke: An Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis

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Over 50% of patients are already taking blood pressure–lowering therapy on hospital admission for acute stroke. An individual patient data meta-analysis from randomized controlled trials was undertaken to determine the effect of continuation versus temporarily stopping preexisting antihypertensive medication in acute stroke. Key databases were searched for trials against the following inclusion criteria: randomized design; stroke onset ≤48 hours; investigating the effect of continuation versus stopping prestroke antihypertensive medication; and follow-up of ≥2 weeks. Two randomized controlled trials were identified and included in this meta-analysis of individual patient data from 2860 patients with ≤48 hours of acute stroke. Risk of bias in each study was low. In adjusted logistic regression and multiple regression analyses (using random effects), we found no significant association between continuation of prestroke antihypertensive therapy (versus stopping) and risk of death or dependency at final follow-up: odds ratio 0.96 (95% confidence interval, 0.80–1.14). No significant associations were found between continuation (versus stopping) of therapy and secondary outcomes at final follow-up. Analyses for death and dependency in prespecified subgroups revealed no significant associations with continuation versus temporarily stopping therapy, with the exception of patients randomized ≤12 hours, in whom a difference favoring stopping treatment met statistical significance. We found no significant benefit with continuation of antihypertensive treatment in the acute stroke period. Therefore, there is no urgency to administer preexisting antihypertensive therapy in the first few hours or days after stroke, unless indicated for other comorbid conditions.

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