Background and Objective: Patients with ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke require strict BP control to prevent hemorrhagic transformation or hematoma expansion. Acute elevations in BP are often treated with IV labetalol. Dedicated stroke units often have automated bedside monitoring of vital signs. Standard automated BP monitoring alerts practitioners to trends that lead to more steady control of BP rather than frequent acute interventions. We evaluated patients who were treated in a stroke unit after the institution of automated bedside monitoring. Comparison was made to the number of times the patients were dosed acutely using labetalol with a control group of patients who were not receiving automated bedside monitoring. The objective was to determine if there was a significant difference in care.
Methods: Patients were evaluated over a 12-month period (2014) after the incorporation of bedside automated BP monitoring in a dedicated stroke unit at a university affiliated, comprehensive stroke center. The number of times each patient during this time frame received IV labetalol for acute elevations in BP was compared with a time period spanning 12-months prior (2013); there was no automated BP monitoring performed. The average interventions were compared with a t-test by using SPSS V22. Comparisons of patient population and type of pathology were matched appropriately.
Results: Of the 1,326 patients who presented for ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes during the 24-month period evaluated, 25 required multiple injections of IV labetalol for acute BP control. Of these, 12 patients were on automated vital signs and BP monitoring, and 13 were not. The mean number of IV labetalol interventions implemented in the group being monitored was 2.8, while the mean number of treatments given to patients not being monitored was 5.9 (p=.016).
Conclusion: In our study there is a trend towards better blood pressure control with adequate adjustment of oral medications for monitored patients in our dedicated stroke unit. Prevention of sudden elevations in BP may translate into lower rates of hemorrhagic transformation or hematoma expansion and confer better outcomes in stroke patients. Larger prospective studies are required to corroborate our findings.