Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.
Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
What are calcium channel blockers and how do they work?
In order to pump blood, the heart needs oxygen. The harder the heart works, the more oxygen it requires.
Angina (heart pain) occurs when the supply of oxygen to the heart is inadequate for the amount of work the heart must do. By dilating the arteries, CCBs reduce the pressure in the arteries. This makes it easier for the heart to pump blood, and, as a result, the heart needs less oxygen. By reducing the heart's need for oxygen, CCBs relieve or prevent angina. CCBs also are used for treating high blood pressure because of their blood pressure-lowering effects. CCBs also slow the rate at which the heart beats and are therefore used for treating certain types of
abnormally rapid heart rhythms.
For what conditions are calcium channel blockers used?
Are there any differences among calcium channel blockers?
CCBs differ in their duration of action, the process by which they are eliminated from the body, and, most importantly, in their ability to affect heart rate and contraction. Some CCBs
[for example, amlodipine (Norvasc)] have very little effect on heart rate and contraction so they are safer to use in individuals who have heart failure or bradycardia (a slow heart rate). Verapamil
(Calan, Isoptin) and diltiazem (Cardizem) have the greatest effects on the heart and reduce the strength and rate of contraction. Therefore, they are used in reducing heart rate when the heart is beating too fast.
What are the side effects of calcium channel blockers?
Liver dysfunction and over growth of gums may also occur. When diltiazem (Cardizem) or verapamil (Calan, Isoptin) are given to individuals with heart failure, symptoms of heart failure may worsen because these drugs reduce the ability of the heart to pump blood.
Like other blood pressure medications, CCBs are associated with sexual dysfunction.