Methyldopa

Sounds like 'METH-iyl-DOW-pa'

Methyldopa is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) especially treat high blood pressure in pregnancy. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects.

What is methyldopa?

Dose

In Aotearoa New Zealand methyldopa is available as 250 mg tablets.
  • The usual starting dose of methyldopa is 250 mg two or three times a day.
  • Your doctor may increase your dose if needed, depending on your blood pressure.
  • Always take your methyldopa exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much methyldopa to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take methyldopa

  • Swallow your methyldopa tablets with a glass of water. You can take your methyldopa tablets with or without food.
  • Timing:
    • Take your methyldopa doses at the same times each day.
    • It is a good idea to start methyldopa or any new dose increase in the evening to reduce the chance of side effects. Also, if your doses of methyldopa are not equal, take the larger dose at bedtime.
  • Alcohol: If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about taking methyldopa and alcohol. Alcohol may increase your chance of side effects such as dizziness, by adding to the blood pressure lowering effect of methyldopa.
  • Missed dose: If you forget your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • Take regularly: Continue to take methyldopa every day, even if you feel well. Do not stop taking methyldopa suddenly as this can cause a sudden increase in your blood pressure. Speak to your doctor or nurse before stopping.

Precautions before taking methyldopa

  • Do you have depression?
  • Do you have any heart, liver or kidney problems?
  • Do you have any blood disorders?
  • Are you pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Are you taking any medicines, over-the-counter and complementary medicines, eg, vitamins, minerals, herbal or naturopathic medicines?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you take methyldopa. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

Precautions when taking methyldopa

Methyldopa can interact with some medications. These include anti-inflammatories such as diclofenac (e.g. Voltaren Rapid), ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen) or naproxen (e.g. Naprogesic). 

Methyldops can also interact with some herbal supplements and rongoā Māori, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new products. 

​What are the side effects of methyldopa?

Like all medicines, methyldopa can cause unwanted side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often unwanted side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling sleepy or drowsy
  • These are quite common when you first start taking methyldopa.
  • Try to start methyldopa or any new dose increase in the evening to reduce the chance of side effects. Also, if  your doses of methyldopa are not equal, take the larger dose at bedtime.
  • Do not drive or use tools or machines until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling faint when you stand up
  • This is common when you first start taking methyldopa.
  • Be careful when getting up from either lying down or sitting to avoid falls. Get up slowly.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Headache
  • Swelling feet or ankles
  • Dry mouth
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Signs of problems with your liver such as yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, pain in the tummy (abdomen)
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116
For more information on side effects, see the consumer information leaflet Methyldopa Mylan Tablet 

Did you know that you can report a medicine side effect to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM)? Report a side effect to a product.

Learn more

The following links provide further information on finasteride. Be aware that websites from other countries may contain information that differs from Aotearoa New Zealand recommendations.

Methyldopa Mylan Tablet
Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet, NZ
Methyldopa NZ Formulary 
Methyldopa Best use of medicines in pregnancy (BUMPS), UK.

References

Methyldopa NZ Formulary 
Methyldopa Mylan Medsafe, NZ
Hypertension in pregnancy NZ Formulary 
Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypertension and Pre-eclampsia in Pregnancy in New Zealand Ministry of Health, August 2018.

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Maya Patel, Pharmacist