Background: Stroke represent one of the most devastating of all neurological diseases, affecting about 15 million people per year and is an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and currently the leading cause of adult disability in developed countries. Blood pressure and heart rate may undergo several modifications in patients with both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke in fact raised blood pressure levels may lead to cerebral edema, hematoma expansion or hemorrhagic transformation and in contrast low blood pressure can lead to increased cerebral infarction or perihematomal ischemia. In addition, ECG abnormalities and cardiac arrhythmias, especially atrial fibrillation, are relatively frequent after stroke, and other well known complications such as heart failure, miocardial infarction and sudden death have been reported. The acute phase of brain infarction requires a careful management of both blood pressure levels and heart rate but despite the large amount of information, blood pressure and heart rate management are still under debate.
Objective: Provide clear indications about the optimal blood pressure and heart rate management of both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, in view of the main available evidence.
Method: In this review, we discuss the evidence for blood pressure and heart rate management in acute stroke, the challenges and issues raised, and look to on-going and future trials that may provide some clarity in this controversial area.