Drug therapy for the secondary prevention of stroke in hypertensive patients: current issues and options.Drugs. 2007; 67(7):955-63.D
Hypertension is the major risk factor for ischaemic and haemorrhagic clinical strokes as well as for silent brain infarcts with a continuous association between both systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Epidemiological data highlight the increasing burden to come over the next decades. Without any doubt, antihypertensive treatment is the most important therapy to reduce the risk of stroke by approximately 30-40%. International guidelines recommend antihypertensive treatment for primary prevention with evidence level A. Recurrent strokes or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) are an important practical, clinical and economic problem, and have a major impact on the development of vascular dementia. All stroke patients and patients with TIA have to be regarded as very high-risk patients. Hypertension increases the risk of recurrent strokes. Only limited data directly address the role of blood pressure treatment among individuals with stroke or TIA. There is a general lack of definitive data regarding when to start antihypertensive treatment in the initial phase, and treatment of hypertension in the acute period after stroke is still under debate. Experimental and clinical data suggest that reducing the activity of the renin-angiotensin aldosterone system (RAAS) may have beneficial effects beyond the lowering of blood pressure. There is increasing evidence of cerebroprotective effects for medication influencing the RAAS, such as angiotensin receptor antagonists or ACE inhibitors. The MOSES study showed for the first time superiority of an angiotensin receptor antagonist compared with a calcium channel antagonist in antihypertensive treatment for secondary stroke prevention. Optimal blood pressure range in secondary prevention seems to be 120-140/80-90 mm Hg, but questions about a J- or U-shaped curve are still not answered sufficiently. The effects of additional antihypertensive treatment in the evening for stroke patients with 'non-dipping' blood pressure need to be investigated.Currently, the most important goal in primary and secondary prevention of stroke is a strict normotensive blood pressure control. Antihypertensive treatment is recommended for both prevention of recurrent stroke and prevention of other vascular events in individuals who have had an ischaemic stroke or TIA (class I, level of evidence A). Many open questions remain and funding of stroke research needs to be increased in the near future.