UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: Blood Pressure Management Updates from the 2013 Acute Ischemic Stroke Guideline

Keywords: ischemic stroke, hypertension, blood pressure (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/25/2013 by Bryan Hayes, PharmD (Emailed: 3/2/2013) (Updated: 3/2/2013)
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The newest iteration of 'Guidelines for the Early Management of Patients with Acute Ischemic Stroke' was recently published. Here are the key revisions specific to blood pressure management:

  • In patients with markedly elevated blood pressure who do not receive fibrinolysis, a reasonable goal is to lower blood pressure by 15% during the first 24 hours after onset of stroke. The level of blood pressure that would mandate such treatment is not known, but consensus exists that medications should be withheld unless the systolic blood pressure is >220 mmHg or the diastolic blood pressure is >120 mmHg (Class I; Level of Evidence C).
  • No data are available to guide selection of medications for the lowering of blood pressure in the setting of acute ischemic stroke. Labetalol and/or nicardipine are listed as preferred, but other options can be used (Class IIa; Level of Evidence C).
  • Restarting antihypertensive medications is reasonable after the first 24 hours for patients who have preexisting hypertension and are neurologically stable (Class IIa; Level of Evidence B).

If administering rtPA, blood pressure needs to be <185/110 mm Hg. That recommendation didn't change.


Jauch EC, et al. Guidelines for the early management of patients with acute ischemic stroke: a guideline for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke 2013 Jan 31 [Epub ahead of print]. PMID 23370205.

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