To review the role of the acute hypertensive response in patients with intracerebral hemorrhage, current treatment options, and areas for further research.
Review of the literature to assess 1) frequency of acute hypertensive response in intracerebral hemorrhage; 2) consequences of acute hypertensive response in clinical outcomes; 3) acute hypertensive response and secondary brain injury: hematoma expansion and perihematomal edema; 4) vascular autoregulation, safety data side effects of acute antihypertensive treatment; and 5) randomized clinical trials and meta-analyses.
An acute hypertensive response is frequent in patients with acute intracerebral hemorrhage and is associated with poor clinical outcomes. However, it is not clear whether high blood pressure is a cause of poor clinical outcome or solely represents a marker of severity. Although current guidelines recommend intensive blood pressure treatment (<140 mm Hg) in patients with intracerebral hemorrhage, 2 randomized clinical trials have failed to demonstrate a consistent clinical benefit from this approach, and new data suggest that intensive blood pressure treatment could be beneficial for some patients but detrimental for others.
Intracerebral hemorrhage is a heterogenous disease, thus, a one-fit-all approach for blood pressure treatment may be suboptimal. Further research should concentrate on finding subgroups of patients more likely to benefit from aggressive blood pressure lowering, considering intracerebral hemorrhage etiology, ultra-early randomization, and risk markers of hematoma expansion on brain imaging.