Methyldopa

Sounds like 'METH-il-DOE-pa'

Easy-to-read medicine information about methyldopa – what is it, how to take methyldopa safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicineAlso called
  • Belongs to a group of medicines called anti-hypertensives (to lower blood pressure)
  • Prodopa®

What is methyldopa?

  • Methyldopa is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). In particular methyldopa is one of the preferred medicines to treat high blood pressure in pregnancy.
  • When taken during pregnancy, treatment with methyldopa is reviewed soon after the birth of the baby as other treatment options may be more suitable.
  • Methyldopa works by blocking certain chemicals in the body and in that way relaxes the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
  • Methyldopa is available as tablets.

Dose

  • The usual starting dose of methyldopa is 250 milligrams two or three times a day.
  • Your doctor will start you on a low dose and 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Continue to take methyldopa every day, even if you feel well. Do not stop taking methyldopa suddenly; speak to your doctor or nurse before stopping.

Possible side effects

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 effectsWhat 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 torublesome
  • 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

Interactions

  • Check with a pharmacist before taking over the counter medicines such as:
    • Cold or flu tablets containing phenylephrine (e.g. Sudafed PE), or diphenhydramine (e.g. Benadryl Original)
    • Anti-inflammatories such as diclofenac (e.g. Voltaren Rapid), ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen), mefenamic acid (e.g. Ponstan), naproxen (e.g. Naprogesic)
  • Methyldopa may interact with a few medications and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Learn more

Prodopa Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet, NZ

Methyldopa Best use of medicines in pregnancy (bumps), UK.

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist.