Intensive blood pressure reduction with intravenous thrombolysis therapy for acute ischaemic stroke (ENCHANTED) Trial

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Systolic blood pressure of more than 185 mm Hg is a contraindication to thrombolytic treatment with intravenous alteplase in patients with acute ischaemic stroke, but the target systolic blood pressure for optimal outcome is uncertain. The researchers assessed intensive blood pressure lowering compared with guideline-recommended blood pressure lowering in patients treated with alteplase for acute ischaemic stroke. The researchers did an international, partial-factorial, open-label, blinded-endpoint trial of thrombolysis-eligible patients (age ≥18 years) with acute ischaemic stroke and systolic blood pressure 150 mm Hg or more, who were screened at 110 sites in 15 countries. Eligible patients were randomly assigned (1:1, by means of a central, web-based program) within 6 h of stroke onset to receive intensive (target systolic blood pressure 130–140 mm Hg within 1 h) or guideline (target systolic blood pressure <180 mm Hg) blood pressure lowering treatment over 72 h. The primary outcome was functional status at 90 days measured by shift in modified Rankin scale scores, analysed with unadjusted ordinal logistic regression. The key safety outcome was any intracranial haemorrhage. Primary and safety outcome assessments were done in a blinded manner.

The authors of the study (The Lancet, February 2019) concluded that although intensive blood pressure lowering is safe, the observed reduction in intracranial haemorrhage did not lead to improved clinical outcome compared with guideline treatment. These results might not support a major shift towards this treatment being applied in those receiving alteplase for mild-to-moderate acute ischaemic stroke. Further research is required to define the underlying mechanisms of benefit and harm resulting from early intensive blood pressure lowering in this patient group.

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