Treatment of Preterm Labor: Calcium Channel Blockers (CCBs)

What are calcium channel blockers?

A calcium channel blocker is a drug used to block the opening of certain types of blood vessels, which allows for increased flow through them. These include coronary arteries and veins. There are many different classes of these drugs, but they all have one thing in common: They’re designed to prevent or slow down the heartbeats so that it doesn’t overwork itself and cause damage.

How do I use nifedipine?

Nifedipine is a prescription medication used to treat preeclampsia, a condition caused when there’s too much amniotic fluid in the uterus. Nifedipine works by preventing the buildup of amniotic fluid and allowing the baby to grow normally. It may also reduce bleeding during pregnancy. Nifedipine can be taken either before or after delivery of your baby.

Who should not take nifedipine?

People with high blood pressure, diabetes, liver disease, kidney problems or other conditions that could lead to dangerous side effects from medications. If you already have high blood pressure or any of these conditions, taking nifedipine might increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Also avoid taking nifedipine if you’ve had seizures in the past.

Why might nifedipine not work for me?

Although nifedipine is effective in many women, it doesn’t work the same way for everyone. Or, you may develop preeclampsia later in your pregnancy than when you started taking it. This could lead to other complications that may require a C-section.

What are the most common side effects of nifedipine?

Nausea, vomiting, headache, swelling in your hands and feet, trouble breathing, blurred vision and a slow heart rate.

How can I prevent or reduce nausea while taking nifedipine?

Eat dry foods (crackers, toast) before taking nifedipine to prevent nausea and vomiting. Also, only take the medication when you’re able to rest and not have to do anything else.

What do I do if the symptoms don’t go away?

Contact your physician immediately.

Is nifedipine addictive or is there a risk of developing an addiction?

Nifedipine is not considered an addictive substance. People don’t develop a tolerance to the medication, nor do they seek it out to get high.

What other drugs will affect nifedipine?

Sources & references used in this article:

Calcium channel blockers in the management of preterm labor and hypertension in pregnancy by DNM Papatsonis, CAR Lok, JM Bos… – European Journal of …, 2001 – Elsevier

Safety concerns for the use of calcium channel blockers in pregnancy for the treatment of spontaneous preterm labour and hypertension: a systematic review and meta … by K Khan, J Zamora, RF Lamont… – The Journal of …, 2010 – Taylor & Francis

Calcium channel blockers for inhibiting preterm labour and birth by V Flenady, AM Wojcieszek… – Cochrane Database …, 2014 –

Calcium channel blockers as tocolytics: principles of their actions, adverse effects and therapeutic combinations by R Gáspár, J Hajagos-Tóth – Pharmaceuticals, 2013 –

Use and safety of calcium channel blockers in obstetrics by AL Tranquilli, SR Giannubilo – Current medicinal chemistry, 2009 –

Calcium channel blockers for inhibiting preterm labour; a systematic review of the evidence and a protocol for administration of nifedipine by JF King, V Flenady, D Papatsonis… – Australian and New …, 2003 – Wiley Online Library

The choice of a tocolytic for the treatment of preterm labor: a critical evaluation of nifedipine versus atosiban by J Lyndrup, RF Lamont – Expert opinion on investigational drugs, 2007 – Taylor & Francis