Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium channel blockers are prescribed medications used to treat various conditions of the heart and blood vessels. Specifically, they can treat high blood pressure, certain irregular heart rhythms, and chest pain. The medications help to slow down the rate of calcium movement to the heart and blood vessel walls, which relaxes the vessels and improves blood flow. Potential side effects include swelling, fatigue, and headaches.
What Are Calcium Channel Blockers?Calcium channel blockers, also known as calcium channel antagonists, are medications used to treat various conditions of the heart and blood vessels.
What Are They Used For?Calcium channel blockers are approved for treating various conditions, including:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Certain irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), including atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, and paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT)
- Chest pain (angina).
Not all calcium channel blockers are approved for treating all of the above conditions.
(Click Calcium Channel Blocker Uses for more information on these uses, along with possible off-label uses for the medications.)
How Do They Work?Calcium channel blockers help to slow down the rate at which calcium moves into your heart and blood vessel walls. This, in turn, helps to relax the blood vessels, which improves blood flow and makes it easier for the heart to pump blood.
There are two basic types of calcium channel blockers, dihydropyridine and non-dihydropyridine. The most important difference between the two types is that non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers can slow down the heart rate, while dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers do not. Because non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers slow down the heart rate, they can be useful for certain types of arrhythmias.