Elevated blood pressure (BP) in acute ischemic stroke is common. A raised BP is related to mortality and disability, yet excessive BP lowering can be detrimental. The optimal BP management in acute ischemic stroke remains insufficient and relies on expert consensus statements. Permissive hypertension is recommended during the first 24-h after stroke onset, yet there is ongoing uncertainty regarding the most appropriate blood BP management in the acute phase of ischemic stroke. This study aims to develop a decision support tool for improving the management of extremely high BP during the first 24 h after acute ischemic stroke by using machine learning (ML) tools.
This diagnostic accuracy study used retrospective data from MIMIC-III and eICU databases. Decision trees were constructed by a hierarchical binary recursive partitioning algorithm to predict the BP-lowering of 10-30% off the maximal value when antihypertensive treatment was given in patients with an extremely high BP (above 220/110 or 180/105 mmHg for patients receiving thrombolysis), according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA), the European Society of Cardiology, and the European Society of Hypertension (ESC/ESH) guidelines. Regression trees were used to predict the time-weighted average BP. Implementation of synthetic minority oversampling technique was used to balance the dataset according to different antihypertensive treatments. The model performance of the decision tree was compared to the performance of neural networks, random forest, and logistic regression models.
In total, 7,265 acute ischemic stroke patients were identified. Diastolic BP (DBP) is the main variable for predicting BP reduction in the first 24 h after a stroke. For patients receiving thrombolysis with DBP <120 mmHg, Labetalol and Amlodipine are effective treatments. Above DBP of 120 mmHg, Amlodipine, Lisinopril, and Nicardipine are the most effective treatments. However, successful treatment depends on avoiding hyponatremia and on kidney functions.
This is the first study to address BP management in the acute phase of ischemic stroke using ML techniques. The results indicate that the treatment choice should be adjusted to different clinical and BP parameters, thus, providing a better decision-making approach.

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