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Methyldopa for Chronic Hypertension During Pregnancy

Examples

Generic Name
methyldopa

Methyldopa reduces high blood pressure (hypertension). It is given as tablets or liquid (orally) or through a vein (intravenously, or IV).

How It Works

Methyldopa affects the nerves that relax the walls of blood vessels, causing the blood vessels to widen (dilate) and thus reducing blood pressure.

Why It Is Used

Methyldopa is used to help control blood pressure in chronic hypertension during pregnancy. Other medicines may be added for blood pressure control, if needed.

Methyldopa is not used in women who have liver or kidney disease.

How Well It Works

Methyldopa is usually effective for the control of chronic hypertension during pregnancy.1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Sleepiness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Methyldopa is most often used in its oral form to treat high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Methyldopa does not begin lowering blood pressure until 4 to 6 hours after it is taken. So it is not a good choice when blood pressure needs to be lowered quickly.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

When you are pregnant or breast-feeding, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Roberts JM, Funai EF (2009). Pregnancy-related hypertension. In RK Creasy, R Resnik, eds., Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice, 6th ed., pp. 651–688. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer William Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
Last Revised November 5, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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