Like other calcium channel blockers, bepridil partially prevents the increase in calcium within the heart's muscle cells that causes the cells to contract. As a result, the muscle cells contract less vigorously. Less vigorous contraction means that the heart works less and needs less oxygen. This effect is useful in treating angina pectoris (heart pain), which occurs when the need of the heart for oxygen to do work exceeds its supply of oxygen. By reducing the need for oxygen, bepridil prevents angina pectoris. Unlike other calcium channel blockers, bepridil does not lower blood pressure and is not used to treat high blood pressure.
Because it can cause abnormal heart rhythms, bepridil generally is reserved for patients who have not responded to other drugs for angina pectoris. Bepridil was approved by the FDA in December 1990.
SIDE EFFECTS: Bepridil can cause very serious cardiac arrhythmias. The risk is increased in patients with a specific electrocardiographic abnormality called QT prolongation and in patients with low blood concentrations of potassium or magnesium. Bepridil also can cause increased or decreased heart rate and other abnormal rhythms.
Other side effects that can occur among patients taking bepridil include:
- flu-like symptoms,
- muscle aches,
- loss of appetite,
- stomach ache,
- dry mouth,
- inability to sleep,
- blurred vision,
- impotence, and
- reduction in sexual drive.
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