GENERIC NAME: diltiazem
BRAND NAMES: Cardizem, Cardizem CD, Cardizem LA, Tiazac, Cartia XT, Diltzac, Dilt-CD, and several others
DISCONTINUED BRAND: Dilacor XR, Tiamate
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Diltiazem is a drug that is used for treating heart pain (angina), high blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythms. It belongs to a class of drugs called calcium channel blockers (CCBs), which includes amlodipine (Norvasc), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin), nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia) as well as others. CCBs block the entry of calcium into muscle cells that make up the heart and that surround the arteries. It is the entry of calcium into these cells that causes the cells to contract, allowing the heart to pump blood, and the arteries to narrow. By blocking the entry of calcium, diltiazem decreases the force of contraction of the heart and its rate of contraction. It also relaxes the muscles surrounding the arteries, allowing the arteries to widen (dilate). In order to pump blood, the heart needs oxygen. The harder the heart works, the more oxygen it requires. Angina occurs when the supply of oxygen to the heart is inadequate for the amount of work the heart must do. By dilating arteries, diltiazem reduces the pressure in the arteries into which the heart must pump blood, and, as a result, the heart needs to work less and requires less oxygen. By reducing the heart's need for oxygen, diltiazem relieves or prevents angina. Dilation of the arteries also reduces blood pressure. The FDA approved diltiazem in 1982.
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