Methyldopa, sold under the brand name Aldomet among others, is a medication used for high blood pressure. It is one of the preferred treatments for high blood pressure in pregnancy. For other types of high blood pressure including very high blood pressure resulting in symptoms other medications are typically preferred. It can be given by mouth or injection into a vein. Onset of effects is around 5 hours and they last about a day.
Common side effects include sleepiness. More severe side effects include red blood cell breakdown, liver problems, and allergic reactions. Methyldopa is in the alpha-2 adrenergic receptor agonist family of medication. It works by stimulating the brain to decrease the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.
Methyldopa was discovered in 1960. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system. The wholesale cost in the developing world is about US$4.31–9.48 per month. In the United States it costs less than $25 per month.
Methyldopa is used in the clinical treatment of the following disorders:
Methyldopa is capable of inducing a number of adverse side effects, which range from mild to severe. Nevertheless, they are generally mild when the dose is less than 1 gram per day. Side effects may include:
Rebound hypertension via withdrawal on account of tolerance upon the abrupt discontinuation of methyldopa has been reported.
Methyldopa has a dual mechanism of action:
Methyldopa exhibits variable absorption from the gastrointestinal tract. It is metabolized in the liver and intestines and is excreted in urine.
When methyldopa was first introduced, it was the mainstay of antihypertensive treatment, but its use has declined on account of relatively severe adverse side effects, with increased use of other safer and more tolerable agents such as alpha blockers, beta blockers, and calcium channel blockers. Additionally, it has yet to be associated with reducing adverse cardiovascular events including myocardial infarction and stroke, or overall all-cause mortality reduction in clinical trials. Nonetheless, one of methyldopa's still current indications is in the management of pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), as it is relatively safe in pregnancy compared to many other antihypertensives which may affect the fetus.