Intravenous nicardipine for severe hypertension in pre-eclampsia—effects of an acute treatment on mother and foetus

A G Aya, R Mangin, M Hoffet, J J Eledjam
Intensive Care Medicine 1999, 25 (11): 1277-81

OBJECTIVES: To assess the efficacy in lowering blood pressure, and the safety for mother and foetus of an acute nicardipine therapy in severe pre-eclampsia.

DESIGN: Prospective clinical study.

SETTING: One university hospital obstetric unit.

PATIENTS: Twenty consecutive adult pre-eclamptic patients with severe hypertension.

INTERVENTION: Nicardipine, 1 microgram/kg per min, was given intravenously to lower the mean arterial pressure (MAP) by at least 15%. Then, the dosage was reduced by 1/3, and the final dosage was determined to maintain MAP at 20-30% below the initial value, by increasing or decreasing the infusion rate by 0.5 mg/h.

MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: Maternal MAP and heart rate (HR) were assessed every 5 min for 1 h. Foetal HR (FHR) was recorded throughout the study period and assessed for Fischer score. Gestational age, Apgar scores, birth weight, capillary filling time and the duration of stay in the paediatric intensive care unit (ICU) were used to evaluate the short-term perinatal outcome. A 15-30% decrease in MAP occurred within 15-20 min in all patients. An increase in HR was noted, and two patients had severe tachycardia. Maternal side effects included flushing, headache, nausea and dizziness. FHR showed a transient decrease in acceleration episodes and occurrence of decelerations. No nicardipine-related foetal distress occurred. Four infants born during the study period did well at birth and had a good outcome.

CONCLUSIONS: Acute nicardipine therapy can induce severe maternal tachycardia. No severe foetal or neonatal adverse effects occurred. This dose scheme requires comparison with alternative therapeutic options.

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