High Blood Pressure Medications and Pregnancy


Pregnancy and Medications do not Mix well

The best philosophy regarding medications while pregnant is to not take any at all. For some women, however, taking certain medications while pregnant is an important part of their health. Luckily there are alternative forms of treatment for many conditions that involve safer medications. Angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE) inhibitors have long been in the category of medications that should be avoided during pregnancy. A new study has, however, shown that this popular blood pressure medication has no adverse affect on the fetus during the first trimester.

High Blood Pressure and Pregnancy

High blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to some very serious complications, such as preeclampsia. A 2006 study showed that of the 30,000 women they studied, women who took ACE inhibitors during the first three months of pregnancy were more than three times as likely to have babies with birth defects. A new study, however, followed the births of more than 465,000 babies over 13 years. This report showed that birth defects were as common among women who took the ACE inhibitors as well as those who did not. The commonality was that all women suffered from high blood pressure.

The suggestion is, of course, that it is in fact the high blood pressure that leads to birth defects during the first trimester, not the medication. The researchers of this study would not make such a definitive claim, but this remains important information for doctors who treat women with high blood pressure while they’re pregnant. It means that they can stay on the important medication for longer.

ACE Inhibitors are Prescribed

ACE inhibitors are also commonly prescribed to treat heart failure and to protect against diabetes complications. ACE inhibitors work to inhibit an enzyme in the kidneys and because of this action they have been definitively proven to cause birth defects in babies if taken during the second and third trimester. ACE inhibitors carry the Food and Drug Administration’s direst warning against taking them during the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

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