Blood pressure variability and outcome in acute ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke: a post hoc analysis of the HeadPoST study


The Head Positioning in Acute Stroke Trial (HeadPoST) is a pragmatic, international, cluster crossover randomized trial of 11,093 patients with acute stroke assigned to a lying-flat (0°) or sitting-up (head elevated ≥30°) position. This post hoc analysis aimed to determine the association between blood pressure variability (BPV) and outcomes for patients from a wide range of international clinical settings and how the association was modified by randomized head position. BPV was defined according to the standard criteria, with the key parameter considered the coefficient of variation (CV) of systolic BP (SBP) over 24 h. Outcome was ordinal 90-day Modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score. The association was analyzed by ordinal, logistic regression, hierarchical, mixed models with fixed intervention (lying flat vs. sitting up), and fixed period, random cluster, and random cluster-period, effects. Nine thousand one hundred and fifty six (8324 acute ischemic stroke and 817 intracerebral hemorrhage; mean age 68.1 years; 39.2% women) were included in the analysis. CV of SBP had a significant linear association with unfavorable shift of mRS at 90 days (adjusted odds ratio 1.06, 95% confidence interval 1.02–1.11; P = 0.01). There was no heterogeneity of the association by randomized head positioning. In addition, CV of diastolic BP (DBP) (1.08, 1.03–1.12; P = 0.001) over 24 h post stroke was significantly associated with 3-month poor outcome. The association was more apparent in sitting-up position (1.12, 1.06–1.19) compared with lying-flat position (1.03, 0.98–1.09) (P interaction = 0.005). BPV was associated with adverse stroke outcome, and the magnitude of the association was greater with sitting-up head positioning in terms of DBP variability.

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The study is supported by a research grant (1066966) from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

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Correspondence to Craig S. Anderson.

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Conflict of interest

JSM: Dunhill Medical Trust Research Training Fellow (RTF97/0117). PML: Research grants from The George Institute for Global Health, grants from Clínica Alemana de Santiago, during the conduct of the study; non-financial support from Boehringer Ingelheim, grants and personal fees from Bayer, grants and personal fees from Astra Zeneca, grants from CONICYT, outside the submitted work. TJM: British Heart Foundation Clinical Research Training Fellow. HA: Lecture fees from Bayer, Daiichi-Sankyo and Takeda. MLH: NHMRC Career Development Fellowship Level 2 APP 1141328. OMPN: Research grants from CNPq and Brazilian Ministry of Health. THL: Research grant from MOST, BMRP and CMRP, Taiwan. CSA: Advisory Panel fees from Astra Zeneca and Amgen, speaking at seminars for Takeda China; research grant from Takeda China. TGR: NIHR Senior Investigator. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Trial registration: (NCT02162017)

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Minhas, J.S., Wang, X., Lavados, P.M. et al. Blood pressure variability and outcome in acute ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke: a post hoc analysis of the HeadPoST study. J Hum Hypertens 33, 411–418 (2019).

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