BACKGROUND: Randomized-controlled trials have shown no beneficial short-term effects of blood pressure lowering treatment in the acute phase of stroke.
AIM: We aimed to see whether blood pressure lowering treatment with candesartan in the acute phase can lead to benefits that become apparent over a longer period of follow-up.
METHODS: The Scandinavian Candesartan Acute Stoke Trial was a randomized- and placebo-controlled trial of candesartan in 2,029 patients with acute stroke and systolic blood pressure ≥140 mmHg. Trial treatment was given for seven-days, and the primary follow-up period was six-months. We have used the national patient registries and the cause of death registries in the Scandinavian countries to collect data on vascular events and deaths up to three-years from randomization. The primary end-point was the composite of stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death, and we used Cox proportional hazards regression model for analysis.
RESULTS: Long-term data were available for 1,256 of the 1,286 patients (98%) from Scandinavia. The risk of the primary composite end-point did not differ significantly between the groups (candesartan 178/632 events, placebo 203/624 events, hazard ratio = 0·87, 95% confidence interval 0·71-1·07). There were also no statistically significant differences for the secondary end-points stroke and all-cause death, or in any of the pre-specified subgroups.
CONCLUSIONS: Treatment with candesartan in the acute phase of stroke was not associated with clear long-term clinical benefits. This result supports the conclusion from trials with short-term follow-up, that blood pressure lowering treatment with candesartan should not be given routinely to patients with acute stroke and raised blood pressure.