Introduction: Early treatment of acute ischemic stroke (AIS) with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) within 4.5 hours of symptom onset is associated with neurologic improvement. A risk of rtPA is hemorrhagic conversion, which has a higher incidence in patients with elevated blood pressure at presentation. Current literature supports the use of blood pressure goals (<185/110 mm Hg) in patients qualifying for rtPA, but the effects of anti-hypertensive (anti-HTN) medications within the first 24 hours of AIS on outcomes has not been evaluated.
Hypothesis: AIS patients requiring anti-HTN medications (anti-HTN group) before rtPA have a poorer outcome at 90 days compared to those that do not need anti-HTN medications (control group).
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of patients >18 years diagnosed with AIS from January 2011 through December 2015 who received one or multiple anti-HTN medication(s) prior to rtPA administration, compared to control patients who did not. Primary endpoint was poor outcome at 90 days, defined as a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) of ≥3. Univariate analysis with Chi-square, Fisher’s exact test or t-test was performed. Multivariate analysis was conducted.
Results: Of 235 patients evaluated for AIS, 145 (61.7%) were included. Baseline demographics were well matched, though more patients in the anti-HTN group had a history of HTN (86.7% vs. 62.5%, p<0.01), diabetes (33.3% vs. 17.5%, p=0.04) and chronic kidney disease (20% vs. 7.5%, p=0.04). There was no difference in the primary endpoint of poor outcome (mRS ≥3) between groups who received blood pressure medication versus those who did not (37% anti-HTN group vs. 30% control, p=.374). There was no difference in hemorrhagic conversion (13.3% anti-HTN group vs. 6.3% control, p=.187). Mortality at 90 days did not differ between groups (11% who received anti-HTN vs. 7.5%, p=.508).
Conclusion: No difference was observed in poor outcomes, hemorrhagic conversion, or 90-day mortality in patients receiving anti-HTN medications prior to rtPA compared to those that did not. These results suggest that aggressive blood pressure management should be used to control hypertension in AIS who may qualify for rtPA, though larger, randomized trials are needed to confirm this finding.