Calcium channel blockers

Calcium channel blockers, or calcium antagonists, treat a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, chest pain and Raynaud's disease. Find out more about this class of medication.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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.

Examples of calcium channel blockers

Some calcium channel blockers are available in short-acting and long-acting forms. Short-acting medications work quickly, but their effects last only a few hours. Long-acting medications are slowly released to provide a longer lasting effect.

Several calcium channel blockers are available. Which one is best for you depends on your health and the condition being treated.

Examples of calcium channel blockers include:

  • Amlodipine (Norvasc)
  • Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others)
  • Felodipine
  • Isradipine
  • Nicardipine
  • Nifedipine (Adalat CC, Afeditab CR, Procardia)
  • Nisoldipine (Sular)
  • Verapamil (Calan, Verelan)

In some cases, your doctor might prescribe a calcium channel blocker with other high blood pressure medications or with cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins.

June 24, 2016 See more In-depth