Calcium channel blockers are heart disease drugs that relax blood vessels and increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart while also reducing the heart's workload. Examples of calcium channel blockers include:
It's the news you don't want to hear from your cardiologist: One or more of your coronary arteries -- the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart -- is blocked. You have coronary artery disease, the No. 1 killer of U.S. adults.
So does this mean you're headed for bypass surgery? Maybe not, if your situation isn't an emergency.
You might have other options -- including less drastic procedures to reopen those arteries, medication alone, or even radical lifestyle change.
What's your best option?...
Calcium channel blockers should be taken with food or milk. Follow the label directions on how often to take it. The number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and how long you need to take it will depend on the type of medication prescribed and on your condition.
While taking this medication, have your blood pressure checked regularly, as advised by your doctor.
While taking this medication, your doctor may tell you to take and record your pulse daily. Your doctor will tell you how rapid your pulse should be. If your pulse is slower than advised, contact your doctor or nurse about taking your calcium channel blocker that day.
What Are the Side Effects of Calcium Channel Blockers?
Side effects of calcium channel blockers can include:
Talk to your doctor if any of these side effects (drowsiness, increased appetite, constipation, tenderness or bleeding of the gums, swelling of feet, ankles, and legs, or fainting) are persistent or severe.
Do Calcium Channel Blockers Have Food and Drug Interactions?
Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking a calcium channel blocker.
Avoid alcohol, as it interferes with the effects of calcium channel blockers and increases the side effects.
It is important that your doctor is aware of all the medications you are taking, as some may have the potential to interact with calcium channel blockers. Talk to your doctor before taking any new medication, including over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and supplements.
Can Pregnant Women Take Calcium Channel Blockers?
Consult with your doctor before taking calcium channel blockers during pregnancy. Animal studies suggest that they may cause birth defects and even stillbirth.
These drugs may also pass into breast milk, but no effect on breastfed infants has been found.
Can Children Take Calcium Channel Blockers?
The safety of calcium channel blockers in children has not been established; however, no problems have been found to date. Discuss the risks and benefits of giving your child calcium channel blockers with your child's doctor.
Can Elderly People Take Calcium Channel Blockers?
Older adults have more side effects from calcium channel blockers than younger people. As a result, lower doses are frequently prescribed.