In a randomized controlled trial, researchers from the Dr. Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College in India compared the effectiveness of oral nifedipine to intravenous (IV) labetalol. According to the trial results, oral nifedipine promoted faster blood pressure (BP) reduction in pregnant patients.

Sixty patients were enrolled in the study from Oct. 2012 to Apr. 2013. Women were randomly assigned to one of three groups – oral, IV or placebo. To qualify for the trial, patients must be experiencing prolonged elevated systolic BP in excess of 160 mm/Hg or prolonged elevated diastolic BP in excess of 100 mm/HG. The primary measurement of success was the time it took to reduce BP, but researchers were also looking at how many doses of each medicine were required, maternal side effects, neonatal side effects, and pregnancy outcome.

Conclusion: The average time to normal BP was just 40 minutes for patients assigned to the oral nifedipine group compared to 60 minutes for patients assigned to the IV labetalol group. Nifedipine was dosed an average of two times for optimal effect compared to three times for IV labetalol.

Source: Shekhar S, Sharma C, Thakur S, Verma S. Oral Nifedipine or Intravenous Labetalol for Hypertensive Emergency in Pregnancy: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2013 Oct 7.