Calcium channel blockers or calcium antagonists are used to treat various medical conditions. Let us find out more about calcium channel blockers from the following article.
What are Calcium Channel Blockers?
Calcium channel blockers are used to block the movement of calcium through calcium channels. These drugs block calcium from entering cells of the heart as well as blood vessel walls. This helps in reducing blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels by affecting the muscle cells in the arterial walls. They are therefore used as hypertensive medications for patients with hypertension.
Uses of Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium channel blockers are used for treating different conditions apart from hypertension. The calcium channel blockers help in slowing heart rate that further reduces the blood pressure, relieves chest pain, and keeps irregular heartbeat in control. They are also used for Raynaud’s phenomenon, cardiomyopathy, as well as prevention of migraine headaches.
Types of Calcium Channel Blockers
There are two types of calcium channel blockers. These include the short-acting form and long-acting form. The short-acting forms function has a quick effect and lasts for a few hours. The long-acting form is slowly released into the blood and gives a longer lasting effect.
Calcium channel blockers tend to have a similar mechanism of action. However, they differ in the way they affect the heart muscles as well as the arteries and the heart rate and contraction. This difference determines the way the calcium channel blocker works and their respective side effects.
Some of the calcium channel blockers prescribed by doctors include:
- Amlodipine (Norvasc)
- Diltiazem (Cardizem, etc.s)
- Nisoldipine (Sular)
- Verapamil (Verelan, etc.)
Side Effects of Calcium Channel Blockers
The common side effects of calcium channel blockers include:
- Low blood pressure
- Liver dysfunction
- Sexual dysfunction (in some cases)
One should take care as certain calcium channel blockers tend to interact with grapefruit and grapefruit products.