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Calcium Channel Blockers

Calcium channel blockers can control hypertension (high blood pressure) and angina (chest pain).

Calcium channel blockers are a family of drugs which have some chemical properties in common, but which also have some distinctions. Examples of calcium channel blockers are Diltiazem, Nicardipine, Nifedipine, Nimodipine, Amlodipine, Felodipine,and Verapamil. Some trade names with which you may be familiar are: Cardizem, Procardia, Adalat, and Cardene.

Calcium channel blockers dilate blood vessels and may slow your heart rate.

How do these medications work?
These medications reduce the level of calcium in the heart muscle and in the cells of blood vessels' walls.. This relaxes the cells and opens the vessels, thereby allowing blood to flow more easily through them. Blood pressure is lowered. The increased flow of blood may bring more oxygen to the heart, which leads to a decrease of chest pain and discomfort.

What are the potential side effects of calcium channel blockers?
The potential side effects associated with calcium channel blockers include: ankle swelling, constipation, heartburn and difficulty swallowing.

Are there any risks or dangers associated with this medication?
Calcium channel blockers may slow your heart rate too much, lower your blood pressure too much, or weaken the contractions of your heart. Certain calcium channel blockers may increase the likelihood of breast cancer.

Is there anyone who should not take this medication?
If you have heart failure, your doctor should use caution in treating your hypertension with calcium channel blockers because weakening the heart muscle may worsen your heart failure..

Short acting calcium channel blockers should be used with caution for long-term treatment of hypertension, because there is some concern that they may increase the chance of a heart attack. Long-acting calcium channel blockers are recommended.

Are there any medicines which I should not take in conjunction with calcium channel blockers?
Refrain from taking other vessel dilating medication in conjunction with a calcium channel blocker, unless specifically directed to do so by your doctor.

If I am taking this medication, is there anything I must do (e.g. take it with food)? Is there anything I must not do?
There is some evidence that grapefruit juice may interfere with the absorption of these medications. It is recommended that you wait four or more hours before drinking grapefruit juice after having ingested this medication.

Are there any other medications which can be taken instead of this one which has the same or similar effect as this medication?
Other medications can control hypertension or angina, but they work in different ways and may be complementary.

Are there any natural remedies which have the same or similar effect as this medication?

Can I take a generic version of this medication?

Is there an over-the-counter version of this medication?
No over-the-counter versions exist.


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