Nicardipine for treating severe antepartum hypertension during pregnancy: Nine years of experience in more than 800 women

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2022 Sep;101(9):1017-1025. doi: 10.1111/aogs.14406. Epub 2022 Jun 16.


Introduction: Women with severe hypertension during pregnancy require prompt stabilization with a combination of magnesium sulfate and rapidly acting intravenously administered antihypertensives. It remains unknown which antihypertensive is best suited for pregnancy. The present study evaluated the intravenous use of the calcium antagonist, nicardipine.

Material and methods: This multicenter, retrospective case series included all pregnant women beyond 20 weeks of gestation with severe antepartum hypertension that were treated with intravenous nicardipine.

Primary outcome measures: successful treatment, time to successful treatment, and maternal safety. Severe hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 160 mm Hg or more and/or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of 110 mm Hg or more.

Results: This study included 830 women. After 1 h of treatment, two-thirds of the women had SBP below 160 mm Hg and DBP below 100 mm Hg. In three out of four women, the mean arterial pressure was below 120 mm Hg. Within 2 h of treatment, 77.4% of women achieved successful treatment. In all cases, nicardipine was eventually effective. Within the first 2 h, 42.7% of women experienced temporary low DBP (ie below 70 mm Hg) without clinical consequences for the mother or fetus. In all cases, the low DBP resolved after discontinuing or reducing the dosage of nicardipine. One case of fetal distress was attributable to maternal hypotension, and a cesarean section was performed at more than 2 h after initiating therapy. During treatment, headache, nausea, and vomiting decreased significantly.

Conclusions: To date, this was the largest case-series study on the use of nicardipine for treating severe antepartum hypertension in pregnancy. We found that nicardipine could effectively and safely treat this condition. Based on its high success rate and acceptable safety profile, nicardipine should be considered a first-line treatment in women with severe hypertension in pregnancy.

Keywords: antihypertensive medication; maternal morbidity; neonatal morbidity; nicardipine; pre-eclampsia; severe hypertension.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cesarean Section
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / drug therapy
  • Hypotension*
  • Nicardipine / pharmacology
  • Nicardipine / therapeutic use
  • Pre-Eclampsia*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Nicardipine