Calcium channel blockers (CCBs)
Calcium is needed by all muscle cells, including those of the heart and muscles and surrounding arteries, in order for the cells to contract. Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) inhibit the movement of calcium into muscle cells. The reduction in calcium reduces the force of the heart's muscular pumping action (cardiac contraction) and thereby reduces blood pressure. CCBs also relax the muscle cells surrounding the arteries to further reduce blood pressure.
Three major types of calcium channel blockers are available. One type is the dihydropyridines, which do not slow the heart rate or cause other abnormal heart rates or rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias). Examples of these drugs include:
- amlodipine (Norvasc)
- amlodipine and atorvastatin (Caduet)
- amlodipine and benazepril (Lotrel)
- amlodipine and valsartan (Exforge)
- amlodipine and telmisartan (Twynsta)
- amlodipine and olmesartan (Azor)
- amlodipine and olmesartan and hydroclorothiazide (Tribenzor)
- amlodipine and aliskiren (Tekamlo has been discontinued in the US)
- amlodipine and aliskiren and hydroclorothiazide (Amturnide has been discontinued in the US)
- amlodipine and perindopril (Prestalia)
- clevidipine (Cleviprex)
- diltiazem (Cardizem)
- felodipine (Plendil has been discontinued in the US)
- isradipine (Dynacirc has been discontinued in the US)
- nifedipine (Procardia, Procardia XL, Adalat CC, Afeditab)
- nicardipine (Cardene, Cardene SR)
- nimodipine (Nimotop has been discontinued in the US)
- nisoldipine (Sular)
- verapamil (Calan)
The other two types of calcium channel blockers are referred to as the non-dihydropyridine agents. One type is verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan) and the other is diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, Dilacor, and Diltia).
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