Calcium channel blockers for lowering blood pressure

Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are medications used to lower high blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels. They can also increase the amount of oxygen rich blood in the cardiac muscle which helps the heart work more efficiently.

This drugs work by blocking the calcium channels in the heart muscle and blood vessels. This decreases the levels of calcium in the cell which causes smaller and less frequent contractions in the heart and blood vessels thereby resulting in lower heart rate, stroke volume and wider blood vessels.

Although these effects makes the CCBs very useful in treating hypertension, medications can also be used to treat many other kinds of heart disease. However, because of the way it works in the human body, the drug can also put our health at risk.


Besides lowering high blood pressure, calcium channel blockers can also be used in treatment of:

  • Chest pain-angina
  • Arrhythmia
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Diastolic heart failure
  • Calcium channel blockers are sometimes also used after a heart attack, especially in people with adverse reaction on beta blockers and in those individuals which require a treatment for chest pain.

    However, they are not as effective as beta blockers in reducing the risk of death after a heart attack. They can also be used to treat migraine headaches.


    CCBs are very strong medications which can be toxic for some people and result in many side effects such as:

  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Edema
  • Heartburn caused by GERD
  • Tenderness or bleeding of the gums
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain and constipation
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Allergic reaction
  • Although every side effect is a sign for alarm, some, such as weight gain or allergic reaction are more serious than others. Calcium channel blockers shouldn't be mixed with alcohol, grapefruit, black pepper, vitamin D and many other medications and herbs.

    Before mixing it with other drugs or supplements, consult with your doctor, otherwise the repercussions can be catastrophic.


    Calcium channel blockers are a good substitute for beta blocker and ACE inhibitors. However, some of these drugs can be taken together in certain cases but only with doctors supervision. This can give better results but it can potentialy lead to more serious side effects.

    Also, there are several kinds of CCBs, selective and non-selective and which one the doctor proscribes you depends on your condition. However, the side effect associated with these medications are more pronounced in older individuals.

    So, if you don't need to take them yet but you have heart disease, rather stick with the diet and exercise. If these two don't work you can always start taking calcium channel blockers.

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