A major study has found that giving stroke patients medications to lower their blood pressure during the first 48 hours after a stroke does not reduce the likelihood of death or major disability. The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
At least 25 percent of the population has high blood pressure, which greatly increases the risk of stroke. Lowering blood pressure has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke. The study investigated whether there also would be a benefit to lowering blood pressure immediately after a stroke.
The study included more than 4,000 stroke patients in 26 hospitals across China, who were randomly assigned to receive blood pressure medications or to discontinue blood pressure medications. At 14 days or hospital discharge, there were no statistically significant differences between the groups in mortality or disability.
Blood pressure often is elevated following a stroke. “But in most cases, treatment is unnecessary because the blood pressure declines naturally over time, and lowering blood pressure may be contraindicated,” said stroke specialist Jose Biller, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology of Loyola University Medical Center. “It is important not to overtreat and cause low blood pressure, because the most important objective is to maintain adequate blood flow to the brain.”
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