GENERIC NAME: nicardipine
BRAND NAME: Cardene, Cardene SR
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Nicardipine belongs to a class of blood pressure reducing medications called calcium channel blockers (CCBs). Other medications in this class include diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), felodipine (Plendil), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin), clevidipine (Cleviprex), and nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia). These medications block the movement of calcium into the smooth muscle cells surrounding the arteries of the body. Since calcium promotes contraction of muscle, blocking calcium entry into the muscle cells relaxes the arterial muscles and causes the arteries to become larger. This lowers blood pressure, which reduces the work that the heart must do to pump blood to the body. Reducing the work of the heart lessens the heart muscle's demand for oxygen and thereby helps prevent angina (heart pain) in patients with coronary artery disease. Unlike verapamil or diltiazem, nicardipine has little effect on heart muscle or on electrical conduction within the heart. The FDA approved nicardipine in December 1988.
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