• blood pressure;
  • clinical trial;
  • hypertension;
  • intracerebral haemorrhage;
  • stroke

Rationale: The INTERACT pilot study demonstrated the feasibility of the protocol, safety of early intensive blood pressure lowering and effects on haematoma expansion within 6 h of onset of intracerebral haemorrhage. This article describes the design of the second, main phase, INTERACT2.

Aims: To compare the effects of a management strategy of early intensive blood pressure lowering with a more conservative guideline-based blood pressure management policy in patients with acute intracerebral hemorrhage.

Design: INTERACT2 is a prospective, randomized, open label, assessor-blinded end-point (PROBE). Patients with a systolic blood pressure greater than 150 mmHg and no definite indication for or contraindication to blood pressure-lowering treatment are centrally randomised to either of two treatment groups within 6 h onset of intracerebral haemorrhage. Those allocated to intensive blood pressure lowering will receive primarily intravenous, hypotensive agents to achieve a systolic blood pressure target of <140 mmHg within 1 h of randomisation and to maintain this level for up to 7 days in hospital. The control group will receive blood pressure-lowering treatment to a target systolic blood pressure of <180 mmHg. Both groups are to receive similar acute stroke unit care, therapy and active management. Oral antihypertensive therapy is recommended in patients before hospital discharge with a long-term systolic blood pressure goal of 140 mmHg according to secondary stroke prevention guidelines. A projected 2800 subjects are to be enrolled from approximately 140 centres worldwide to provide 90% power (α 0·05) to detect a 14% difference in the risk of death and dependency between the groups, which equates to one or more cases of a poor outcome prevented in every 15 patients treated.

Study outcomes: The primary outcome is the combined end-point of death and dependency according to the modified Rankin Scale at 90 days. The secondary outcomes are the separate components of the primary end-point in patients treated <4 hours of ICH onset, grades of physical function on the modified Rankin Scale, health-related quality of life on the EuroQoL, recurrent stroke and other vascular events, days of hospitalisation, requirement for permanent residential care and unexpected serious adverse events. The study is registered under NCT00716079, ISRCTN73916115 and ACTRN12608000362392.