As a pregnant woman, you know that hypertension or high blood pressure can further complicate your situation. In such a scenario, a drug called Propranolol can help you overcome the condition. But, is it safe to take propranolol during pregnancy, and what side effects can it have?
If these are the questions that are making you anxious, then let’s diffuse your anxiety right now. Just read our post below and learn all about propranolol and pregnancy.
What Is Propranolol?
Propranolol is a sympatholytic non-selective beta blocker or SNBB often used with other medicines to treat hypertension or high blood pressure. Hypertension can also increase pressure on your arteries and heart. If you have constant high blood pressure, the heart and arteries might not perform properly. The drug is also used to treat irregular heartbeats, pheochromocytoma, and tremors. Propranolol may reduce the risk of heart attacks as well.
[ Read: Labetalol During Pregnancy ]
How Does Propranolol Work On Pregnant Women?
Propranolol is an effective medication, which can help treat many conditions including:
High blood pressure or hypertension is a condition in which the blood is forced against the artery walls, and it eventually causes health problems, such as heart disease (1).
[ Read: Blood Pressure During Pregnancy ]
2. Angina Pectoris:
Angina is a term used to describe a condition in which reduced blood flow to the heart muscle causes chest pain. It is also a symptom of a coronary artery disease.
The condition is characterized by a rapid and irregular heartbeat.
Propranolol helps control anxiety, reduce panic attacks and treat hypothyroidism.
Propranolol can also reduce the frequency and the severity of a migraine-induced headache (2).
6. Essential Tremor:
Propranolol can help treat essential or benign or familial tremors. It is a movement disorder, the causes of which remain mysterious. An essential tremor can affect your arms, hands, or fingers and sometimes head and vocal cords (3).
Abnormally high sweating or hyperhidrosis is a condition that can lead to emotional, social and psychological problems. The right dose of propranolol can help you overcome this condition (4).
It is also known as a self-involution tumor, it usually occurs due to growth or swelling of endothelial cells that like our blood vessels. Propranolol can help keep the condition at bay (5).
Glaucoma is the umbrella term used to describe a group of eye disorders that often damage the optic nerve. Propranolol can help you overcome glaucoma (6).
Is Propranolol Safe During Pregnancy?
Although propranolol is used extensively for all the causes mentioned above, it is well-documented in pregnancy for women with hypertension. A research on pregnant women exposed to the drug during the first trimester did not show any birth defects (Briggs, 1994). One study found there was an intrauterine growth restriction in mothers who used it for hypertension. (Redmond, 1992). The severity depends on the dosage more than anything else. Consult your doctor before you take propranolol during pregnancy. Propranolol crosses the placenta, and it is due to this that it can cause neonatal adverse effects. A daily dose of 160mg or more can lead to serious problems. Lower levels are harmful too. Some studies also link propranolol with premature labor.
Side-Effects Of Propranolol During Pregnancy:
Propranolol has to be taken as directed by the physician, and if you take more than the required dosage, you should see your doctor immediately. A high dose of propranolol can lead to:
- Allergic Reactions like difficulty in breathing, swelling of the throat or face, itching skin lumps.
- You might feel sleepy and dizzy after taking propranolol.
- Taking the medicines during pregnancy might affect the developing baby.
- A cough producing mucus
- Tightness in the chest
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- Tarry stools
- Blood in the urine
- Bloody stools
- Body aches
- Decreased Urine Output
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Double vision
- Hair loss
- Heavier periods
- Night blindness
- Noisy Breathing
- Mood swings
- Irritated eyes
- Reddening around the ears
- Runny nose
- Weight gain (9)
Some of these side effects do not need medical attention as they subside during treatment as the body adapts to the medicine. Your doctor is the best person to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce the side effects. Some side effects may or may not affect you.
[ Read: Safe Medications during pregnancy ]
Precautions To Take While Taking Propranolol During Pregnancy:
Propranolol is not prescribed to pregnant women. However, here we list some precautions of taking propranolol during pregnancy:
- It is highly important to check with the doctor regarding the child’s development.
- Also, make sure the medicine is working properly without unwanted side effects.
- The medicine might cause changes in the blood sugar level, and so it is important to keep the sugar levels in check.
- Make sure any other doctor or dentist treating you know about you taking this medicine.
- The medicine might cause some people to be less alert and if you are one of them avoid driving and also avoid using machines that can be dangerous for you and the baby.
- DO not stop the medicine suddenly without consulting the health care professional, the doctor will ask you to reduce the medicine gradually.
- Medicine is said to cause skin reactions, keep checking the skin for any problems.
- Do not mix the medicine with any other medicine unless your doctor advises.
[ Read: Safe antibiotics during pregnancy ]
Propranolol And Lactation:
Most beta-blocking agents like propranolol appear in the milk of lactating woman. However, the drug is exceedingly bound to proteins in the bloodstream, and the distribution levels are rather low. These low levels don’t pose any risk to the breastfeeding infant. So, the therapy is said to be compatible with breastfeeding.
It is difficult to judge the treatment benefit that propranolol has in pregnant women. While this medicine does not have an ill effect on all pregnant women, the safety and its effect to the developing baby should be continuously discussed with the doctor. If the side effects are excessive, avoid using the medicine.
If you are under this medication and had been taking propranolol while pregnant, do share your experience with us.
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