Research Article

Pregnancy induced hypertension: evidence for increased cell membrane permeability to sodium.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 287 doi: (Published 10 September 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;287:709
  1. P L Weissberg,
  2. J Weaver,
  3. K L Woods,
  4. M J West,
  5. D G Beevers


    In a cross sectional study of 137 women of childbearing age (16-40) the effects of normal pregnancy, hypertensive pregnancy, and oral contraceptives on red cell electrolyte content and sodium efflux rates were examined and the results compared with values in a control group of normotensive, non-pregnant women. Efflux rate constants were significantly increased in normotensive pregnancy and in women taking oral contraceptives. This was associated with a significant increase in sodium permeability in the contraceptive group. A much larger increase in sodium permeability and efflux rate constant was seen in the hypertensive group. The results permit a hypothesis that the hormonal changes induced by pregnancy and oral contraceptives increase membrane permeability to sodium and stimulate sodium efflux. The rise in blood pressure associated with use of oral contraceptives may have a similar aetiology to that occurring in pregnancy induced hypertension.