Calcium Channel Blockers

Submitted by Thiruvelan on Thu, 06/24/2010
Hypertension Medicine Calcium Channel Blockers

Calcium channel blockers block calcium from entering the smooth muscle cells of the heart and arteries. When calcium enters these heart and arterial cells, it causes a stronger and harder contraction.

Calcium channel blocker blocks calcium entry; thus hearts' contraction is not as forceful, relaxes blood vessels, reduce heart rate, and lower blood pressure. 

Calcium channel blockers medications

The British Hypertension Society recommended first-line therapy in patients over 55 should be a calcium channel blocker or a thiazide-type diuretic.

CCB class of drugs can easily identify by the suffix "-dipine." Commonly prescribed CCB medications on the market, include:

  1. Amlodipine besylate: (brand name: Norvasc, Lotrel)
  2. Clevidipine: (brand name: Cleviprex)
  3. Diltiazem hydrochloride: (brand name: Cardizem CD, Cardizem SR, Dilacor XR, Tiazac)
  4. Felodipine: (brand name: Plendil)
  5. Isradipine: (brand name: DynaCirc, DynaCirc CR, Prescal)
  6. Nicardipine: (brand name: Cardene, Cardene SR)
  7. Nifedipine: (brand name: Adalat CC, Procardia XL)
  8. Nisoldipine: (brand name: Baymycard, Sular, Syscor)
  9. Verapamil hydrochloride: (brand name: Calan SR, Covera HS, Isoptin SR, Verelan)
  10. Aranidipine (brand name: Sapresta)
  11. Azelnidipine (brand name: Calblock)
  12. Barnidipine (brand name: HypoCa)
  13. Benidipine (brand name: Coniel)
  14. Cilnidipine (brand name: Atelec, Cinalong, Siscard) Not available in the US
  15. Efonidipine (brand name: Landel)
  16. Lacidipine (brand name: Motens, Lacipil)
  17. Lercanidipine (brand name: Zanidip)
  18. Manidipine (brand name: Calslot, Madipine)
  19. Nilvadipine (brand name: Nivadil)
  20. Nimodipine (brand name: Nimotop) this drug can pass the blood-brain barrier and useful to prevent cerebral vasospasm.
  21. Nitrendipine (brand name: Cardif, Nitrepin, Baylotensin)
  22. Pranidipine (brand name: Acalas)
  23. Bepridil: (brand name: Vasocor)

Calcium channel blockers used alone may cause increased proteinuria in patients with the chronic renal disease.

Mechanisms of action - Decrease in the concentration of free intracellular calcium ions results in decreased contraction of heart and vasodilation of arteries. Diuretic effect through increase in renal blood flow and glomerular filtration rate. And inhibition of aldosterone secretion.

What to do, if calcium channel blocker causes feet and ankles swelling?

Unfortunately, feet and ankles swelling can be a side effect of calcium channel blockers. If it is not severe, you can continue using it. But, if it is severe, you need to stop taking it and try choosing another class of antihypertensive medicines.

Why does the heart stop beating, when kept in a calcium solution?

Calcium channels are present in the heart when activated they reduce the contractile property of heart muscle. That is why in calcium solution, the heart stops beating. For this same reason, your doctor prescribes calcium channel blockers for cardiac arrest.

What are the conditions suggest the use of calcium channel blockers?

Calcium channel blockers might prescribe for hypertension with heart conditions such as coronary artery disease, coronary spasm, angina, abnormal heart rhythms, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, diastolic heart failure, Raynaud’s syndrome, and pulmonary hypertension (hypertension in the arteries of the lungs). Calcium channel blockers are also used to prevent migraine headaches.

Calcium channel blockers are recommended for people with angina pectoris, chest pain caused by an inadequate oxygen supply to the heart muscle in patients with coronary artery disease.

The calcium channel blockers amlodipine and felodipine should use for systolic heart failure.

Can older adults take CCB?

Older adults have more side effects from calcium channel blockers than younger, thus a low dose of calcium channel blockers prescribed for them.

Who should avoid Calcium Channel Blockers?

Avoid Calcium Channel Blockers, if you have a heart condition, liver or kidney problems, pregnant, and taking nitrates, quinidine, or fentanyl.

What are the side effects of calcium channel blockers?

Side effects of calcium channel blockers can include palpitations, constipation, drowsy, headache, increased appetite, GERD, bleeding gums, lightheadedness, dizziness, low blood pressure, ankle feet swelling, and sexual dysfunction.

Immediately consult your doctor, if you are experiencing weight gain, breathing difficulty, skin rash/hives, and fainting.

What are the warning signs of calcium channel blocker?

Consult a doctor immediately if you are having chest pain, heavy rashes, swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, arms, or legs, fainting, irregular heartbeat.