Background: Lowering of blood pressure (BP) in the acute phase of stroke is reported both to worsen and to improve the outcome. To investigate whether heterogeneity exists between stroke subtypes in the response to BP lowering, we analysed data from the Intravenous Nimodipine West European Stroke Trial (INWEST). Methods: INWEST enrolled acute ischaemic stroke patients within 24 h (n = 295) to the following groups: placebo (n = 100), 1 mg/h nimodipine (n = 101) or 2 mg/h nimodipine (n = 94). Patients were retrospectively classified as total anterior circulation infarct (TACI) (i.e. hemiparesis + hemianopia + dysphasia) and non-TACI (exclusion of any one of these). Main outcome measures were neurological (Orgogozo) and functional (Barthel) scores at day 21. Results: 106 patients were labelled as TACI and 62 as non-TACI. No significant difference in BP was observed between the TACI and non-TACI subtypes at baseline, nor did the subtypes differ in BP course within the treatment groups. A higher proportion of non-TACI patients received postrandomisation antihypertensive agents in addition to the study drug compared with TACI patients (55% non-TACI vs. 26% TACI, p < 0.005). For TACI patients, there was no outcome difference between the placebo- and nimodipine-treated groups. For non-TACI patients, placebo had a significantly better neurological (p = 0.004) and functional (p = 0.04) outcome than the high-dose nimodipine group. In multivariate analysis for TACI patients, BP reduction and nimodipine treatment had no relation with outcome. Baseline stroke severity (p < 0.005) was the only significant predictor of the outcome at day 21. For non-TACI patients, diastolic BP (DBP) reduction (p = 0.03) and nimodipine treatment (p = 0.001) were related to neurological deterioration and nimodipine treatment (p = 0.01) to functional deterioration. Systolic BP reduction was associated with neurological (p < 0.005) and functional improvement (p = 0.01). Baseline stroke severity (p < 0.005) was related to both neurological and functional outcome. Conclusion: BP lowering and nimodipine treatment had no significant effect on outcome for TACI patients. For non-TACI patients, DBP lowering worsened the neurological outcome and high-dose nimodipine worsened both the neurological and functional outcome.
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