How is hypertension controlled in the acute management of stroke when thrombolysis is contraindicated?

Updated: Sep 08, 2017
  • Author: Edward C Jauch, MD, MS, FAHA, FACEP; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

For patients who are not candidates for thrombolysis with recombinant t-PA (rt-PA) and who have a systolic blood pressure of less than 220 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 120 mm Hg in the absence of evidence of end-organ involvement (ie, pulmonary edema, aortic dissection, hypertensive encephalopathy), blood pressure should be monitored (without acute intervention) and stroke symptoms and complications (eg, increased ICP, seizures) should be treated.

For patients with a systolic blood pressure above 220 mm Hg or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 120 mm Hg, labetalol (10-20 mg IV for 1-2 min) should be the initial drug of choice, unless a contraindication to its use exists. Dosing may be repeated or doubled every 10 minutes to a maximum dose of 300 mg.

Alternatively, nicardipine may be used for blood pressure control. Nicardipine is given intravenously at an initial rate of 5 mg/h and titrated to effect by increasing the infusion rate 2.5 mg/h every 5 minutes, to a maximum of 15 mg/h. Lastly, nitroprusside at 0.5 mcg/kg/min IV infusion may be used in the setting of continuous blood pressure monitoring. The goal of intervention is a reduction in blood pressure of 10-15%.


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