Uses for calcium channel blockers

Doctors prescribe calcium channel blockers to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in a variety of conditions, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Brain aneurysm complications
  • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia)
  • Migraine
  • Some circulatory conditions, such as Raynaud's disease
  • High blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs (pulmonary hypertension)

Calcium channel blockers may not be as effective as diuretics, beta blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors at lowering blood pressure. Because of this, calcium channel blockers aren't usually the first medication you'd be prescribed to lower your blood pressure.

However, for blacks, calcium channel blockers may be more effective than other blood pressure medications, such as beta blockers, ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers.

Side effects and cautions

Side effects of calcium channel blockers may include:

  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Dizziness
  • Rash
  • Fatigue
  • Flushing
  • Nausea
  • Swelling in the feet and lower legs

Certain calcium channel blockers interact with grapefruit products. Check with your pharmacist or physician before taking a calcium channel blocker. Some calcium channel blockers can reduce your ability to eliminate calcium channel blockers from your body, allowing the medication to build up in your body. This buildup could cause serious side effects.

Feb. 01, 2014 See more In-depth