Calcium Channel Blockers (CCBs) (cont.)

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For what conditions are calcium channel blockers used?

CCBs are used for treating high blood pressure, angina, and abnormal heart rhythms (for example, atrial fibrillation, paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia).

They also may be used after a heart attack, particularly among patients who cannot tolerate beta-blocking drugs, have atrial fibrillation, or require treatment for their angina.

Unlike beta blockers, CCBs have not been shown to reduce mortality or additional heart attacks after a heart attack.

CCBs are as effective as ACE inhibitors in reducing blood pressure, but they may not be as effective as ACE inhibitors in preventing the kidney failure caused by high blood pressure or diabetes.

Calcium channel blockers may be more effective for blacks than other blood pressure medications.

They also are used for treating:

CCBs are also used in the prevention of migraine headaches.

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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/11/2014


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