High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke, present in about 50 per cent of stroke patients. Recently, frequent changes in blood pressure, known as blood pressure variability (BPV), has also been linked to stroke risk, although the research is limited. People with high blood pressure can be put on medication to reduce it but the effect on their BPV has not been well studied. It is also not clear how early after stroke patients should have their high blood pressure treated in order to help recovery or prevent subsequent strokes.
This study will collect robust data on BPV in stroke patients in order to understand how it is related to future stroke risk and recovery from stroke. There will be three parts to the study. (1) A review of all the past research to identify which measures of blood pressure and BPV are most useful to predict stroke recovery. (2) A study to compare several different methods for measuring BPV in stroke patients to find which method gives the highest quality data and is most acceptable to patients. 300 stroke patients will be followed for 12 months to see whether BPV relates to stroke recovery or the risk of a second stroke. (3) A clinical trial to compare the effects of two different blood pressure medications on BPV in 250 patients with high risk of stroke.
The ultimate aim of this research is develop better treatments for high blood pressure and blood pressure variability in stroke patients. This will have a major impact on reducing the risk of recurrent disabling and fatal stroke, with consequent benefit to stroke survivors and their families.