nifedipine, Adalat, Procardia, Afeditab, Nifediac

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GENERIC NAME: nifedipine

BRAND NAMES: Adalat, Procardia, Afeditab, Nifediac

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Nifedipine belongs to a class of medications called calcium channel blockers (CCBs) that are used to treat angina (heart pain), high blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythms. Other drugs in the same class include amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem LA, Tiazac), felodipine (Plendil), isradipine (Dynacirc), nicardipine (Cardene), nimodipine (Nimotop), and verapamil (Covera-HS, Veralan PM, Calan). Like other CCBs, nifedipine works by blocking the flow of calcium into the muscle cells surrounding the arteries that supply blood to the heart (coronary arteries) as well as other arteries of the body. Since the inflow of calcium is what causes the muscle cells to contract, blocking the entry of calcium relaxes the muscles and dilates (widens) the arteries. By dilating coronary arteries, nifedipine increases the flow of blood to the heart. This treats and prevents angina which occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is not adequate to supply the heart with enough oxygen necessary to pump blood. Relaxing the muscles surrounding other arteries of the body lowers blood pressure and thereby reduces the pressure against which the heart must pump blood and function. This reduces the demand of the heart for oxygen--another mechanism by which CCBs treat and prevent angina. In addition, nifedipine slows conduction of the electrical current that travels through the heart that causes the muscle of the heart to contract. This effect can be used to correct abnormally rapid heartbeats.




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