Intravenous use of the calcium-channel blocker nicardipine as second-line treatment in severe, early-onset pre-eclamptic patients

Lidwien M Hanff, Arnold G Vulto, Pieter A Bartels, Daniella W E Roofthooft, Bas Nij Bijvank, Eric A P Steegers, Willy Visser
Journal of Hypertension 2005, 23 (12): 2319-26

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of intravenous administration of nicardipine as a second-line temporizing treatment in severe, early-onset, pre-eclamptic patients.

DESIGN: An open, prospective, evaluation study.

SETTING: A high-care obstetric ward in a tertiary care centre.

PATIENTS: Twenty-seven early-onset, pre-eclamptic patients with a median gestational age of 27 weeks 1 day (range, 21 weeks 2 days-32 weeks 4 days) with treatment failure on standard intravenous antihypertensive drugs (ketanserin, dihydralazin or labetalol).

INTERVENTION: Nicardipine infusion was started for temporizing management of pre-eclampsia at a dosage of 3 mg/h and was subsequently titrated according to blood pressure. Nicardipine treatment was continued for as long as the maternal and foetal conditions allowed.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The endpoints of the study were defined as the percentage of patients reaching the target diastolic intra-arterial blood pressure (< 100 mmHg or < 90 mmHg in Haemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes, Low Platelet Count syndrome patients) within 1 h after the start of treatment, and the number of days of prolongation of pregnancy under nicardipine treatment. Maternal and foetal side effects, foetal death and neonatal outcome were assessed.

RESULTS: In all patients the target diastolic intra-arterial blood pressure was obtained within a median of 23 min (range, 5-60 min). Delivery was postponed for a median of 4.7 days (range, 1-26 days) using nicardipine treatment, in a maximum dosage ranging from 3 to 9 mg/h. Detailed haemodynamic parameters with corresponding nicardipine dosages were obtained in nine patients. In one-fifth of the patients, unwanted hypotensive periods were registered during treatment, manageable with dosage adaptation. Foetal well-being did not seem adversely affected.

CONCLUSION: This evaluation shows that nicardipine is a potent antihypertensive drug and can be used for temporizing management in severe, early-onset pre-eclampsia when other antihypertensive drugs have failed.

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