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Updated 11 February 2013

Amlodipine

Amlodipine is a medication that widens and relaxes blood vessels, and decrease the rate at which the heart beats.

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Amlodipine is the active ingredient of Norvasc, Amlate, Amloc, Amlodac, Amlosyn, Austell Amlodipine, CPL Alliance Amlodipine, Ciplavasc and Lomanor.

Amlodipine is also one of multiple active ingredients found in Caduet (Amlodipine + Atorvastatin).

General information

Amlodipine is a medication that widens and relaxes blood vessels, and decrease the rate at which the heart beats.

It is used to treat and prevent angina pectoris, chest pain as a result of a lack of oxygen available to the heart muscle. It is of particular use in those patients with asthma who cannot make use of other medications such as beta blockers, often prescribed for angina prevention and treatment.

It is furthermore used for the treatment of high blood pressure.

Amlodipine does not cure any of these conditions, but keeps them under control. For amlodipine to be effective, it has to be taken regularly, even if you do not notice any immediate effect - it may take several weeks no notice the full benefit of this medication.

Be aware that, at the start of treatment with this medication, you may feel dizzy, especially when getting up suddenly. Caution is advised.

How does amlodipine work?

Calcium plays an important role in the contraction of heart muscle, as well as smooth muscle in the walls of arteries. By blocking the channels though which calcium enters cells in these muscles, relaxation of these muscles is obtained. The result is a reduced workload of the heart (and a decrease in occurrence of angina), as well as widening of blood vessels causing high blood pressure to return to normal and safe levels.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 3

Available as: Amlodipine is available as tablets

What does it do? Amlodipine reduce high levels of blood pressure, and treats and prevents chest pains.

Overdose risk: Medium

Dependence risk: Low

Available as a generic? Yes

Available on prescription only? Yes

User information

Onset of effect: Within 2 hours.

Duration of action: Up to 12 hours.

Dietary advice: To minimise stomach irritation and adverse effects, this medication should be taken with or immediately after food; a low-salt and low-fat diet is advised.

Stopping: Do not withdraw treatment abruptly as this may cause a return of symptoms; consult you prescriber before discontinuing treatment.

Prolonged use: Although no problems are expected with long-term use, your doctor may occasionally request kidney and liver function test.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have a liver or kidney disease
  • you have or have had congestive heart failure
  • you have unstable angina
  • you are taking other medication

Pregnancy: Avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant

Breastfeeding: Avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: Avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: Safety and efficacy of this medication has not been established for children under the age of 12.

Elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly as dosage adjustment may be needed.

Driving and hazardous work : Caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how it affects you.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication as it is possible that this combination may cause a further drop in blood pressure adding to dizziness. Caution is advised.

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

Headache

x

x

Dizziness/ light-headedness

x

x

Flushing in face

x

x

Urine retention

x

x

Swelling/ weight gain

x

x

Fatigue

x

x

Drowsiness

x

x

Nausea/ abdominal pain

x

x

Palpitations

x

x

Rash

x

x

Hair loss

x

x

Shortness of breath

x

x

Increase in angina attacks

x

x

Interactions

Drug interactions

ACE inhibitor drugs

Possible decrease in blood pressure

Beta blocking drugs

Increased risk of heart failure

Cimetidine

Increased risk of amlodipine toxicity

Digoxin

Increased risk of digoxin toxicity

Ritonavir

Increased risk of amlodipine toxicity

Theophylline

Increased risk of theophylline toxicity

Food interactions

A low-salt, low-fat diet is advised. Alcohol may cause a drop in blood pressure

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have a liver or kidney disease, congestive heart failure or if you have unstable angina.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Adults, oral: 5-10mg once a day, usually in the morning. A lower dose (i.e. 2.5mg) may be needed for the elderly.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 
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