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Can I use Nicardia for high blood pressure in pregnancy?

Q: I am six months pregnant and my blood pressure is usually 130/90 mmHg but today my pressure rose to 150/100 mmHg. My gynaecologist gave me Nicardia 5 mg and Duvadilan. Do these drugs have any side effects?

A:The only drug approved for high blood pressure during pregnancy is methyldopa (sold under the brand name of Alphadopa) 250mg to be taken 2-3 times daily. Nicardia (nifedipine) is contraindicated (not permitted) during pregnancy. It carries the potential for fetal hypoxia (reduced oxygen supply to fetus). The drug has been shown to produce birth defects in animals such as rats and rabbits. Its administration was associated with a variety of embryotoxic (toxicity to embryo), placentotoxic (toxic to placenta) and foetotoxic (toxic to foetus) effects, including stunted foetuses, and prolonged pregnancy/ decreased neonatal survival. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women; hence it should not be given to pregnant women.

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