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Calcium channel blockers

Calcium channel blockers are heart disease and blood pressure drugs that relax the muscles around the walls of arteries, making them wider. This increases the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart while also reducing the heart's workload and blood pressure.

Calcium channel blockers may be prescribed for angina (restricted blood supply to the heart muscles), for high blood pressure, and for Raynaud's phenomenon where temporary spasms of the arteries leads to cold, painful toes and fingers.

Calcium channel blockers can precipitate heart failure in some people so should be avoided for those at risk.

Different types of calcium channel blockers

The choice of calcium blocker a doctor will prescribe will depend on the person's health and which conditions they have, and will take into account NHS guidance.

For people with hypertension or high blood pressure alone, amlodipine may be recommended.

For people with hypertension and the heart condition angina, amlodipine, felodipine or nifedipine may be preferred.

Always take medication as advised by the doctor. Make sure your doctor and pharmacist are aware of all your existing conditions and medications being taken for them, including any supplements or herbal products you are taking. This allows them to check for possible interactions with other treatments, such as beta-blockers and antidepressants.

Seek medical advice if a dose is missed or an extra dose taken by mistake.

Grapefruit juice may interfere with the metabolism of calcium-channel blockers, so it is best avoided while you are taking the drug.

Let the doctor know of you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as these drugs can sometimes be used, but this should always be checked.

Side effects of calcium channel blockers

Side effects of calcium channel blockers include:

Seek medical advice if you have concerns about side effects. Don’t stop taking medicines without seeking medical advice first.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on October 10, 2016

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