Pregnant women taking ACE inhibitors for blood pressure may be significantly increasing their babies' risk of birth defects, particularly when taken early on, according to a large study.
Although the drugs were previously thought to be safe, the study found that babies born to women who took ACE inhibitors during their first trimester were more than twice as likely to have serious heart and brain problems as those whose mothers did not take the drugs.
In all, about 7 percent of babies whose mothers took ACE inhibitors developed major birth defects, compared to about 2 percent of those whose mothers took no drugs or other blood pressure medications. The birth defects included holes in the heart, neurological and kidney problems, and others.
ACE inhibitors currently carry a "black box" warning on their label, warning that there are dangers associated with use in later pregnancy, and advising the drugs be discontinued if a woman becomes pregnant.
The study's lead researcher advised that the drugs be avoided during early pregnancy, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking more research before changing the warning label to include risks during the first trimester. The FDA has placed a notice on its Web site to notify doctors and patients of the findings.
If you have to use a drug for hypertension, and upwards of 75 million Americans have it, ACE inhibitors really seem to be wonderful as they appear to have very few side effects and are highly effective for many.
Of course they do absolutely nothing to treat the underlying cause of the disease, and now we find out that if you happen to be pregnant and take them in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy you will have a 300 percent increase in birth defects in your child.
So if you are a woman who has a chance of getting pregnant should you be on these drugs? I think not. For if you do get pregnant it is already too late -- your baby will have already been exposed to these potentially toxic drugs.
This is doubly tragic as high blood pressure is so easy to treat. I remember very clearly being in medical school and, during my physiology class, studying Gutyon's textbook of physiology. It clearly said 95 percent of hypertension was idiopathic, which means they had no clue what caused it.
I recall being struck how odd that was. I had such great respect for the medical sciences and was really puzzled why they had no idea what caused one of the most common problems afflicting Americans.
Well about 10 years after I graduated I finally understood the primary cause for the majority of those with hypertension -- elevated insulin levels. Once you normalize insulin levels by grain and sugar reduction and increased exercise, the blood pressure -- nearly universally -- magically normalizes.
Yet how many physicians today understand this fundamental concept? From my experience not very many.
But you don't have to fall into this deception and take needless and potentially toxic drugs to treat a condition that most physicians don't know the cause of.
I later learned that simple exposure to sunshine will also do wonders at normalizing your blood pressure. Who would have thought that getting a tan could help you get off your drugs?
Of course, emotional stress is probably the primary reason for high blood pressure if insulin is not the culprit. Fortunately, there are effective energy psychology tools for that.
Exercise is another tool that will normalize blood pressure, and it works on both the physical (insulin) and emotional aspects of the disease.
You can take your health into your own hands and start the simple life-transforming health changes mentioned above. Be very careful about weaning off any hypertensive medications, though. You will want to do this under the guidance of a trained health care professional as prematurely discontinuing some of them can lead to a stroke.