The main job of calcium channel blockers is to lower high blood pressure. According to the Mayo Clinic, these medications keep calcium from entering the cell walls of the heart and blood vessels. This allows the blood vessels to relax and widen, thus reducing the work of the heart and lowering blood pressure. A variety of these medications exist.
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Aside from dilating blood vessels and reducing blood pressure, amlopidine helps relieve angina (chest pain). According to Drugs.com, this medication is usually taken once a day, although a doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Some of the most common side effects associated with amlodipine are headache, dizziness, nausea and joint or muscle pain.
Felodipine works slightly different than its sister medication, amlodipine. Rather than dilating the blood vessels, it eases the workload of the heart by slowing down its contractions. It also increases blood flow, which helps reduce blood pressure. According to Drugs.com, the usual dose is between 2.5 and 10 milligrams taken once a day. The most common side effects are headaches, weakness, dizziness and upset stomach.
Nicardipine lowers blood pressure by relaxing and dilating the blood vessels, allowing for increased blood flow to the heart. It is available in both a regular tablet and extended-release capsule. Patients who are taking it in the extended-release form should not break the capsule, according to Drugs.com, as this can release too much medication into the bloodstream at once. Common side effects include unusual headaches, fatigue, insomnia and increased urination.
Verapamil (Calan Verelan)
Verapamil is used not only to reduce high blood pressure but also to relieve angina and treat certain heart rhythm disorders. This, too, is available in an extended-release tablet or capsule that should not be broken or crushed. Common side effects of verapamil include constipation, dizziness, nausea and headaches.