verapamil (Calan, Verelan, Verelan PM [Discontinued: Isoptin, Isoptin SR, Covera-HS])

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is verapamil, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Verapamil belongs to a class of medications called calcium channel blockers (CCBs), which includes amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor), nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia) as well as others. These medications block the movement of calcium into the muscle cells of the coronary arteries (the arteries supplying the heart with blood) as well as the other arteries of the body. Since calcium triggers contraction of muscles, blocking entry of calcium relaxes the muscles that surround the arteries. This relaxation allows arteries to become larger so that more blood can flow through them. Thus, verapamil is useful in treating and preventing chest pain (angina) resulting from spasm (contraction) of the coronary arteries that reduces the flow of blood to the heart. Relaxing muscles in the arteries of the rest of the body lowers blood pressure and thereby reduces the pressure against which the heart must pump blood. As a result, the heart works less and requires less oxygen-carrying blood. This allows the heart to work with the reduced flow of blood caused by coronary artery disease and prevents angina (which occurs whenever the flow of blood to the heart is inadequate). Verapamil also decreases the conduction of electrical impulses through the heart that control the coordination of contraction. As a result, the rate of contraction slows. Verapamil was approved by the FDA in March 1982.

What brand names are available for verapamil?

Calan, Verelan, Verelan PM,

Is verapamil available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for verapamil?

Yes

What are the side effects of verapamil?

Common side effects of Verapamil are

Other side effects include

Verapamil also can cause mildly abnormal liver tests that usually return to normal with discontinuation of the medication. Verapamil may reduce heart rate. Verapamil also can cause excessive lowering of blood pressure in rare instances. Verapamil can aggravate heart failure, especially in patients with poor function of their heart muscle.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/13/2015

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