The vasodilation of pregnancy is thought by many to be due to increased endothelial production of prostacyclin, a vasodilatory prostanoid. Indomethacin, a potent inhibitor of prostaglandin synthesis, is known to increase the maternal blood pressure response to angiotensin II infusion. We sought to measure directly the hemodynamic effects of a short course of indomethacin. Twenty-three healthy pregnant women with uncomplicated pregnancies between 26-32 weeks' gestation completed the study. Using Doppler technology, we determined cardiac output, stroke volume, and total peripheral resistance before and after three 25-mg doses of indomethacin. Although blood pressure did not change, peripheral resistance rose and stroke volume fell following indomethacin administration. Our findings support the hypothesis that indomethacin interferes with tonic prostaglandin-induced vasodilation in pregnancy. However, the increase in vascular resistance was very slight, suggesting that other vasodilators are also at work in pregnancy. We recommend that indomethacin be used judiciously in hypertensive pregnant patients until more information concerning possible adverse hemodynamic effects becomes available.
© 1992 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists