High Blood Pressure Medicine for Pregnant Women

High blood pressure during pregnancy requires special care and usually has one of three causes. The first is gestational hypertension, diagnosed when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure just before delivering, without any other symptoms. Some women have chronic hypertension--high blood pressure that either begins before the 20th week of pregnancy, or before a woman becomes pregnant. Some women do not know they have high blood pressure until they become pregnant. Finally, pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), also known as pre-eclampsia or toxemia, is when high blood pressure develops after the 20th week of pregnancy and is accompanied by other symptoms, including swelling, abdominal pain, and protein in the urine. Treatment depends on what is causing the blood pressure to be high.

  1. Pre-eclampsia

    • Since the only cure for pre-eclampsia, or PIH, is delivery of the baby, the treatment depends how close you are to delivering. If the baby is mature enough, the doctor will induce delivery immediately. However, if the baby is less than 37 weeks of gestational age, the doctor may prescribe blood pressure medication and bed rest in order to continue the pregnancy.

    Gestational Hypertension

    • Since gestational hypertension occurs very close to delivery, medication is generally not prescribed for this condition. However, the doctor will monitor you carefully to ensure it does not turn into PIH.

    Chronic Hypertension

    • If you're already taking medication for high blood pressure before you become pregnant, you doctor will most likely want you to continue taking your medication. However, he may need to adjust your current dosage, since blood pressure tends to drop during the first two trimesters of pregnancy. Or, he may switch you to something that is more safe for the baby.

    Drugs to Avoid

    • Any medication taken during pregnancy can potentially affect the baby, but some are safer than others. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, often prescribed for high blood pressure, are not considered safe during pregnancy. According to a study published by The American Family Physician, there is significant evidence that these drugs may prevent the baby's kidneys from developing properly and can lead to fetal death. Drugs in this category include Lotensin, Accupril, Altace and Vasotec, among others.

    Safe Medications

    • The FDA has deemed the drugs Aldomet and Visken as "usually safe" during pregnancy. Side effects may include dry mouth and sleepiness. Many doctors feel the drug nifedipine (brand names Procardia and Adalat) is also safe, though it has not been thoroughly studied by the FDA.

    Warning

    • High blood pressure during pregnancy is a potentially serious condition for both you and your baby. Your health and dosage of medication will need to be monitored throughout. Take all medications exactly as prescribed, and keep all of your prenatal appointments with your doctor in order to help ensure a healthy delivery.

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