What You Need To Know About Calcium Channel Blockers
Written by Eli Ben-YehudaOn November 3, 2019
Most people with high blood pressure at times cannot get away with taking some sort of medication. As part of keeping our readers informed we want to be able to provide the information, you need to know about the most widely used medications.
That being said we are not medical doctors or pharmacists. So the information we provide is not medical advice. It is consumer information for you to discuss with your physician if need be and to better educate the general public about medications they may be taking.
This month’s medication review will be about “Norvasc” also known as amlodipine for high blood pressure. Do not stop taking Norvasc all of a sudden. Stopping medication suddenly could cause a blood pressure spike that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. Always keep under the supervision of your family doctor and follow their advice when tapering any medications.
What Is Norvasc?
Norvasc is the brand name for amlodipine besylate, a prescription drug used to treat hypertension or high blood pressure.
Norvasc is also used to treat coronary artery disease (CAD) in patients without heart failure, and certain types of angina (chest pain) from CAD, such as activity- and stress-induced angina (chronic stable angina), and angina that occurs at rest (Prinzmetal’s angina).
Taken regularly, Norvasc can control angina, but it doesn’t stop chest pain after it has already begun.
The drug can also lower a person’s risk of cardiovascular events related to high blood pressure, such as strokes and heart attacks.
Norvasc belongs to a class of drugs called calcium channel blockers, which block the flow of calcium into heart muscles and the muscles along the walls of blood vessels.
Because the contraction of these muscles depends on calcium, Norvasc relaxes and widens blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow.
Doctors also sometimes prescribe Norvasc “off-label” for the treatment of cluster headaches, migraines, Raynaud’s syndrome (a blood vessel disorder), and congestive heart failure.
How Do Calcium Channel Blockers Work
Calcium channel blockers prevent calcium from entering cells of the heart and blood vessel walls, resulting in lower blood pressure. Calcium channel blockers, also called calcium antagonists, relax and widen blood vessels by affecting the muscle cells in the arterial walls.
Some calcium channel blockers have the added benefit of slowing your heart rate, which can further reduce blood pressure, relieve chest pain (angina) and control an irregular heartbeat.
For people of African heritage and older people, calcium channel blockers might be more effective than other blood pressure medications, such as beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers.
Should I Avoid Certain Foods When Using Norvasc?
While you are taking this medicine, do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice at any time. You may choose an alternative citrus beverage (such as orange juice). In the event that you are instructed by a healthcare professional (e.g., doctor, pharmacist, or dietitian) to eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice, you should immediately discuss with your doctor the effects of grapefruit on the blood levels of this medicine.
If you consume grapefruit juice, talk to your doctor about alternative medications. Tell your doctor immediately if you develop muscle aches and pains or an unusual change in your amount of urine. Contact your healthcare professional (e.g., doctor or pharmacist) for more information. Your healthcare professionals may be aware of this interaction and may be monitoring you for it. Do not start, stop, or change your medicine or diet before checking with them first.
Pleurisy Root: Pleurisy roots are not recommended with a combination of most cardiovascular medications due to the cardiac glycoside content of the root.
Can I Drink Alcohol While Using Norvasc?
Although alcohol doesn’t directly affect the medicine itself, blood pressure lowering medicines like amlodipine can make some people feel dizzy, sleepy or tired. If you are affected in this way it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol because it may make these side effects worse. Also, remember that if you have high blood pressure you should minimize the amount of alcohol that you drink because alcohol can increase blood pressure.
Are Multi-Vitamins Safe To Use With Amlodipine?
Using amlodipine together with multivitamin with minerals can decrease the effects of amlodipine. Talk with your doctor before using Norvasc and multivitamin with minerals together. You may need a dose adjustment or need your blood pressure checked more often if you take both medications. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.
Norvasc Side Effects
Common side effects of Norvasc include:
- A headache
- Swelling (edema) of the ankles or feet
- Tired feeling
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- Flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling)
Typical Calcium Channel Blocker Interactions
Calcium channel blockers may interact with other medications, so always tell your doctor about every medication, recreational drug, vitamin, and supplement — whether over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription — that you are taking.
You should always take calcium channel blockers with a meal or a glass of milk to protect the stomach.
Some of the drugs that are likely to interact with calcium channel blockers include:
- Other high blood pressure medications, including ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors or beta blockers
- Diuretics (water pills)
- Some eye medications
- Large amounts of vitamin D or calcium supplements
- Drugs used to treat arrhythmia
- Digitalis, also called digitoxin (Digoxin)
- Drugs that contain cortisone, or any corticosteroids
Remember to take calcium channel blockers exactly as your doctor or pharmacist recommends.
This means not crushing, chopping, or dissolving these medications unless you’re told it’s okay — especially if you’re taking a medication that ends in XL or XR, which means extended release. Cutting pills will negate that effect, and possibly cause adverse effects.
You must not rely solely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. If you have specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information posted on our website.
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