Objective: Our purpose was to determine the effects of orally administered nimodipine on selected maternal and fetal parameters in patients with preeclampsia.
Study design: Ten consecutive patients were given 30 mg of nimodipine orally every 4 hours from admission until 24 hours after delivery. Maternal and fetal cerebral blood velocity, umbilical artery blood velocity, fetal heart rate variability, maternal blood pressure and heart rate, and transplacental passage of the drug were studied. All 10 patients were delivered within 24 hours of the first dose of nimodipine.
Results: There was an acute and significant reduction in the pulsatility index in the smaller diameter maternal cerebral arteries (ophthalmic and central retinal) and in the fetal middle cerebral artery. The umbilical artery systolic/diastolic ratio was also significantly reduced. Maternal blood pressure was controlled without the need for other antihypertensive medication, and although there was an increase in heart rate after administration of the drug, it was well tolerated. Nimodipine reached significant maternal and fetal levels within 2 hours.
Conclusions: Nimodipine is rapidly absorbed after oral administration and has significant maternal and fetal cerebral vasodilator activity. It is an effective, easily administered antihypertensive agent when used in patients with preeclampsia.