A comparison of nicardipine and labetalol for acute hypertension management following stroke

Xi Liu-Deryke, James Janisse, William M Coplin, Dennis Parker, Gregory Norris, Denise H Rhoney
Neurocritical Care 2008, 9 (2): 167-76

OBJECTIVE: Evaluate the ease of use and tolerability of labetalol (L) and nicardipine (N) for hypertension management in patients with acute stroke.

METHODS: This is a retrospective, non-randomized study. Consecutive adults within 24 h of hospital admission who received intravenous bolus labetalol or nicardipine infusion as first-line antihypertensive therapy were identified. Hemodynamic data were collected through 24 h of therapy.

RESULTS: Ninety patients received either labetalol (N = 64) or nicardipine (N = 26) initially for blood pressure (BP) management. Stroke types were 54% intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), 22% subarachnoid hemorrhage, and 23% ischemic stroke and were similar between the two drug groups. Baseline patient characteristics and disease severity (APACHE II and GCS) were similar between groups. The average total daily labetalol dose was 40 (10-340) mg and nicardipine infusion was 5 (1-14) mg/h. Initial BP was similar in the two groups. The nicardipine group had less BP variability (N 8.19 vs. L 10.78 mmHg; p = 0.003), fewer dosage adjustments [L 4 (1-17), N 2 (0-5); p < 0.001] and fewer additional antihypertensive agents (L 33%, N 8%; p = 0.013) administered during the 24-h observation period. In patients with ICH, 33% of nicardipine-treated patients achieved target BP within the first 60 min versus 6% of the L group (p = 0.02). Overall, incidence of hypotension (SBP < 90 mmHg) (L 3%; N 0%) and bradycardia (HR < 60 beats per min) (L 20.6%; N 12%) were comparable between the groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Nicardipine offers an alternative to labetalol with similar tolerability and appears to provide a smoother blood pressure control compared to labetalol.

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