Home > Treatment > Taking Calcium-Channel Blockers

Taking Calcium-Channel Blockers

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 17 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
Heart Cardiac Hypertension Beta-blockers

Calcium channel blockers are a group of medications given in the treatment of certain cardiac conditions or those of the circulatory system.

How Do They Work?

Calcium channel blockers work predominantly on the muscle cells of the heart and the blood vessels. In order for the heart muscle and the walls of the vessels to work efficiently they must contract to push the blood around the body. To be able to contract the cells need calcium. Calcium channel blockers work by stopping the calcium entering the cells and therefore preventing this action. Reducing the amount of calcium taken up by the cells allows the vessels and heart muscles to stay more relaxed.There are a variety of different calcium channel blockers all working on different parts of the circulatory system as they target different cells.

Indications For Use

Calcium channel blockers are often given in the treatment of angina as they help prevent the heart from contracting too forcefully, therefore reducing it’s workload.They are also given for a range of disorders affecting the blood vessels, such as high blood pressure, Raynaud’s disease and coronary artery disease. The vessel's walls are kept more relaxed, allowing the blood to flow more freely within them.

Though they are frequently and most usually given to treat high blood pressure, or hypertension, the first choice of drug continues to be beta-blockers, with calcium channel blockers being given to those for whom beta-blockers are not recommended.

Side Effects and Contraindications

Many of those taking calcium channel blockers will experience no side effects, but as they are often given in conjunction with other medications, any side effects that occur may be due to these drugs as opposed to the calcium channel blockers.

Occasionally, due to the action of the drugs on the blood vessels, individuals may feel flushed or have slight headaches, this should subside or can indicate a reduced dose if needed.Interferences with gastro-intestinal function has been reported, with particular reference to constipation and this can be relieved by making subtle changes in the diet or taking preparation aimed to relieve constipation.

Other side effects, though very rare, include dizziness, palpitations and nausea. These should be discussed with your GP who may want to change the dose of the prescription.

Calcium channel blockers do not carry many contraindications as they are relatively safe for use by most people. The only definite rules are that the dose should always be taken as directed by the person they are intended for, that the drugs should not suddenly be withdrawn, consultation with your GP is essential before the medication is stopped and that grapefruit juice is avoided at all times due to it’s potential to interfere with the function of the drug.

Caution should be exercised in those who are pregnant, breast feeding, have a history of liver or kidney problems and those who have been told they have had low blood pressure.

Calcium channel blockers are a relatively safe choice of medication given to those who have angina or problems with high blood pressure. They work by preventing the uptake of calcium in the cells, which is needed for the cells to contract.If taken as directed and all effects discussed with the GP, most people will have no problems taking this mediation.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Counselor
    Re: Hole in the Heart: What Happens Next?
    Ok I'm 61 yes old.ive been in 3 motorcycle wrecks,I have sticky platelets I've been hospitalized 3:times with blood…
    17 July 2020
  • FJS
    Re: Why Does My Heart Beat Faster After Sweet Food?
    The coffee doesn't make a heart beat faster. Caffeine makes the hart beat harder/stronger. The sugar…
    15 July 2020
  • Chitti
    Re: Hole in the Heart: What Happens Next?
    Hi Doctor, My friend is having 35 years and he is having a hole in the heart, he consulted many doctors in USA and…
    23 May 2020
  • rafa
    Re: What is Heart Block?
    Hello. I have born first degree heart block. 10 years ago was temporarily changing to 2 degrees, but stay first degree. Am I at high risk…
    24 March 2020
  • Zusi
    Re: Hole in the Heart: What Happens Next?
    In Sept '16 I was diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) and in May '17 I had a stroke - the only symptoms…
    3 March 2020
  • Mahendra Gaikwad
    Re: Hole in the Heart: What Happens Next?
    Hi Iam 53 years old and living very healthy life. I have blood pressure but it is in normal condition with proper…
    27 February 2020
  • Poppypie1
    Re: What is Heart Block?
    Hi there I had a pacemaker fitted last year for Mobitz II heart block. My pacemaker is set to fire if my rate drops below 60 b/pm. Am I…
    23 January 2020
  • Muss
    Re: Hole in the Heart: What Happens Next?
    Hey.... My friend had a hole in his heart since he was born but he discovered it after he turned 17.....now he is 19…
    13 December 2019
  • williniejacobs
    Re: Hole in the Heart
    I was diagnosed of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2012 at the age of 63. I had been a heavy smoker, my symptoms started out…
    27 November 2019
  • Abbsx
    Re: Hole in the Heart: What Happens Next?
    i was born with a hole in my heart , when i run i get heart palpitation like symptoms, i have asthma so it might be to…
    15 November 2019