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BMC Neurol. 2004 Jan 6;4:1.

Loss of circadian rhythm of blood pressure following acute stroke.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India 160012.



Epidemiology of acute stroke in developing countries differs from that in the developed world, for example, the age at stroke, risk factors, subtypes of stroke and prognosis. Hypertension remains a dominant risk factor and prognostic indicator in patients with stroke in all communities. The risk of stroke is directly related to elevations of blood pressure. A number of clinical studies have shown that the control of hypertension leads to a reduction in the incidence of stroke in a community. However there is still considerable controversy surrounds the changes in blood pressure in various subtypes of strokes and problem of management of elevated BP after stroke. We studied the circadian rhythm of blood pressure in patients following acute stroke.


To study the circadian rhythm of blood pressure, fifty consecutive patients with an acute stroke who were admitted to medical emergency within 120 hours of onset were included in the study. After a detailed history and clinical examination, a continuous blood pressure monitor (Spacelab 90207) was attached on the side ipsilateral to intracranial lesion (unaffected arm). The blood pressure was recorded for 24 hours at 15 minutes interval during daytime (6.00 am-6.00 pm) and 20 minutes interval overnight (6 pm to 6 am).


Risk factors for stroke in 50 patients included hypertension in 31(62%), diabetes mellitus in 4 (8%), smoking in 13 (26%) and previous history of transient ischemic attack in 7 (14%) patients. Mean systolic pressure and diastolic pressure at admission were higher in patients with hemorrhagic stroke -29 patients (177 +/- 24 mmHg and 105 +/- 19 mmHg respectively) compared to patients with ischemic strokes-21 patients (150 +/- 36 mm Hg and 89 +/- 18 mm Hg respectively, p value <0.01 in both comparisons). The normal diurnal variation in blood pressure (night time dipping of more than 10%) was abolished in 44 (88%) of patients. Out of 44 nondippers, 29 patients showed reverse dipping i.e. rise of BP during night time compared to day time levels. None of the risk factors, clinical or laboratory variables, type of stroke or blood pressure changes differed significantly between these two groups.


Therefore, we showed a pathologically reduced or abolished circadian BP variation after stroke. Absence of normal dipping results in a higher 24 hour blood pressure load and may have more target organ damage than those with normal diurnal variation of blood pressure.

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