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Heart Failure and Calcium Channel Blockers

Calcium channel blockers are prescribed to treat angina (chest pain) and high blood pressure. Calcium channel blockers affect the movement of calcium in the cells of the heart and blood vessels. As a result, calcium channel blockers relax blood vessels and increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, while reducing its workload.

Calcium channel blockers may be used to treat heart failure caused by high blood pressure when other medications to lower blood pressure do not work. Calcium channel blockers generally should not be used if you have heart failure due to systolic dysfunction.

Recommended Related to Heart Failure

Understanding Heart Failure -- Prevention

Drug therapy to lower blood pressure has been shown to reduce heart failure rates by 40%-60%. Reducing blockages in the coronary arteries with anti-cholesterol drugs has been shown to reduce heart failure rates by 30%. Early diagnosis and treatment of heart-valve abnormalities can prevent heart failure caused by chronic volume overload of the heart's left chamber.

Read the Understanding Heart Failure -- Prevention article > >

Calcium channel blockers include:

  • Norvasc
  • Plendil
  • Cardizem
  • Covera
  • Isoptin


How Should I Take Calcium Channel Blockers?

Calcium channel blockers should be taken with food or milk. Follow the medication label directions. 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.

What Side Effects Could I Have From Calcium Channel Blockers?

Side effects of calcium channel blockers include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Increased appetite
  • Swelling

Contact your doctor if these side effects are persistent or severe.

If you have any of the following side effects, contact your doctor right away.

  • Weight gain
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Irregular or slow heartbeat
  • Skin rash

Should I Avoid Certain Food or Drugs While Taking Calcium Channel Blockers?

When taking calcium channel blockers:

  • Ask your doctor if you need to avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while taking your calcium channel blocker.
  • Alcohol may interfere with the effects of calcium channel blockers and increase 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 drug, including over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and supplements.

Other Guidelines for Taking Calcium Channel Blockers

  • While taking calcium channel blockers, have your blood pressure checked regularly, as advised by your doctor.
  • Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory so that your response to the drug can be monitored.
  • While taking this medication, your doctor may tell you to take and record your pulse daily. Your provider will tell you how rapid your pulse should be. If your pulse is slower than advised, contact your doctor about taking your calcium channel blocker that day.



WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on May 16, 2014

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