Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are a category of medication prescribed to treat high blood pressure, angina (chest pain) and heart rhythm abnormalities.
Calcium channel blockers keep calcium from entering the muscle cells of your heart and blood vessels. This allows blood vessels to relax, and your blood pressure goes down.
Calcium channel blockers are not usually prescribed as a first-line treatment for people with high blood pressure who have no other forms of heart disease. Instead, they are used as a when other medications have failed to provide sufficient blood pressure control.
Calcium channel blockers may be prescribed for the initial treatment for people who have high blood pressure, AND angina and/or a high risk of stroke. In such cases, the are usually prescribed in combination with other medications.
These medicationa are not prescribed for people with heart failure.
Types of Calcium Channel Blockers
There are various forms of CCBs available, including:
- Amlodipine (Norvasc®)
- Clevidipine (Cleviprex®)
- Diltiazem (Cardizem®, Dilacor® XR, Tiazac®)
- Felodipine (Plendil®)
- Isradipine (DynaCirc®)
- Nicardipine (Cardene®)
- Nifedipine (Adalat®, Procardia®)
- Nimodipine (Nimotop®)
- Nisoldipine (Sular®)
- Verapamil (Calan®, Covera®, Isoptin®, Verelan®)
Common side effects from the use of calcium channel blockers include the following:
- Feeling drowsy
- Upset stomach
- Ankle swelling
- Feeling flushed (warm)
- Do not use calcium channel blockers if you have a heart condition or if you are taking nitrates, quinidine, or fentanyl.
- People who have liver or kidney problems should talk to their doctor about the specific risks of using any Calcium Channel Blocker.
- Women who are pregnant or nursing should talk to their doctor before they start using these drugs.
Call your doctor if you have any of these signs:
- Chest pain
- Serious rashes
- Swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, arms, or legs
- Irregular heartbeat
Read the Medication Guide you receive with your prescription for a complete list of usage instructions and side effects.
Reference: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
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