New ICH Guidelines

A Guideline for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association on the management of spontaneous intracerebral haemorrhage has been published in Stroke. The full text is available here.

In summary:

Medical Treatment for ICH

  • Patients with a severe coagulation factor deficiency or severe thrombocytopenia should receive appropriate factor replacement therapy or platelets, respectively
  • Patients with ICH whose INR is elevated due to oral anticoagulants (OAC) should have their warfarin withheld, receive therapy to replace vitamin K–dependent factors and correct the INR, and receive intravenous vitamin K. Prothrombin Complex Concentrates have not shown improved outcome compared with FFP but may have fewer complications compared with FFP and are reasonable to consider as an alternative to FFP.
  • rFVIIa does not replace all clotting factors, and although the INR may be lowered, clotting may not be restored in vivo; therefore, rFVIIa is not routinely recommended as a sole agent for OAC reversal in ICH
  • Although rFVIIa can limit the extent of hematoma expansion in noncoagulopathic ICH patients, there is an increase in thromboembolic risk with rFVIIa and no clear clinical benefit in unselected patients. Thus rFVIIa is not recommended in unselected patients. Further research to determine whether any selected group of patients may benefit from this therapy is needed before any recommendation for its use can be made.
  • The usefulness of platelet transfusions in ICH patients with a history of antiplatelet use is unclear and is considered investigational
  • Patients with ICH should have intermittent pneumatic compression for prevention of venous thromboembolism in addition to elastic stockings
  • After documentation of cessation of bleeding, low-dose subcutaneous low-molecular-weight heparin or unfractionated heparin may be considered for prevention of venous thromboembolism in patients with lack of mobility after 1 to 4 days from onset
  • Blood Pressure
    • Until ongoing clinical trials of BP intervention for ICH are completed, physicians must manage BP on the basis of the present incomplete efficacy evidence. Current suggested recommendations for target BP in various situations are listed in an accompanying table and may be considered
    • In patients presenting with a systolic BP of 150 to 220 mmHg, acute lowering of systolic BP to 140 mm Hg is probably safe

    Inpatient Management and Prevention of Secondary Brain Injury

    • Initial monitoring and management of ICH patients should take place in an intensive care unit with physician and nursing neuroscience intensive care expertise
    • Glucose should be monitored and normoglycemia is recommended

    Seizures and Antiepileptic Drugs

    • Clinical seizures should be treated with antiepileptic drugs
    • Continuous EEG monitoring is probably indicated in ICH patients with depressed mental status out of proportion to the degree of brain injury
    • Patients with a change in mental status who are found to have electrographic seizures on EEG should be treated with antiepileptic drugs
    • Prophylactic anticonvulsant medication should not be used


    • Patients with a GCS score of ≤8, those with clinical evidence of transtentorial herniation, or those with significant IVH or hydrocephalus might be considered for ICP monitoring and treatment. A cerebral perfusion pressure of 50 to 70 mmHg may be reasonable to maintain depending on the status of cerebral autoregulation
    • Ventricular drainage as treatment for hydrocephalus is reasonable in patients with decreased level of consciousness

    Intraventricular Hemorrhage Recommendation

    • Although intraventricular administration of recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator in IVH appears to have a fairly low complication rate, efficacy and safety of this treatment is uncertain and is considered investigational

    Clot Removal

    • For most patients with ICH, the usefulness of surgery is uncertain. Specific exceptions to this recommendation follow
    • Patients with cerebellar hemorrhage who are deteriorating neurologically or who have brainstem compression and/or hydrocephalus from ventricular obstruction should undergo surgical removal of the hemorrhage as soon as possible. Initial treatment of these patients with ventricular drainage alone rather than surgical evacuation is not recommended
    • For patients presenting with lobar clots ≥30 mL and within 1 cm of the surface, evacuation of supratentorial ICH by standard craniotomy might be considered
    • The effectiveness of minimally invasive clot evacuation utilizing either stereotactic or endoscopic aspiration with or without thrombolytic usage is uncertain and is considered investigational
    • Although theoretically attractive, no clear evidence at present indicates that ultra-early removal of supratentorial ICH improves functional outcome or mortality rate. Very early craniotomy may be harmful due to increased risk of recurrent bleeding

    Outcome Prediction and Withdrawal of Technological Support

    • Aggressive full care early after ICH onset and postponement of new DNR orders until at least the second full day of hospitalization is probably recommended. Patients with preexisting DNR orders are not included in this recommendation. Current methods of prognostication in individual patients early after ICH are likely biased by failure to account for the influence of withdrawal of support and early DNR orders. Patients who are given DNR status at any point should receive all other appropriate medical and surgical interventions unless otherwise explicitly indicated.

    Prevention of Recurrent ICH

    • In situations where stratifying a patient’s risk of recurrent ICH may affect other management decisions, it is reasonable to consider the following risk factors for recurrence: lobar location of the initial ICH, older age, ongoing anticoagulation, presence of the apolipoprotein ε2 or ε4 alleles, and greater number of microbleeds on MRI
    • After the acute ICH period, absent medical contraindications, BP should be well controlled, particularly for patients with ICH location typical of hypertensive vasculopathy
    • After the acute ICH period, a goal target of a normal BP of <140/90 (<130/80 if diabetes or chronic kidney disease) is reasonable
    • Avoidance of long-term anticoagulation as treatment for nonvalvular atrial fibrillation is probably recommended after spontaneous lobar ICH because of the relatively high risk of recurrence. Anticoagulation after nonlobar ICH and antiplatelet therapy after all ICH might be considered, particularly when there are definite indications for these agents. Avoidance of heavy alcohol use can be beneficial. There is insufficient data to recommend restrictions on use of statin agents or physical or sexual activity

    Rehabilitation and Recovery

    • Given the potentially serious nature and complex pattern of evolving disability, it is reasonable that all patients with ICH have access to multidisciplinary rehabilitation. Where possible, rehabilitation can be beneficial when begun as early as possible and continued in the community as part of a well-coordinated (seamless) program of accelerated hospital discharge and home-based resettlement to promote ongoing recovery

    Guidelines for the Management of Spontaneous Intracerebral Hemorrhage. A Guideline for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association
    Stroke published online Jul 22, 2010