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What is diltiazem, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
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.
What brand names are available for diltiazem?
Cardizem, Cardizem CD, Cardizem LA, Tiazac, Cartia XT, Diltzac, Dilt-CD, and several others
Is diltiazem available as a generic drug?
Do I need a prescription for diltiazem?
What are the side effects of diltiazem?
Side effects include:
- edema (swelling of the legs and feet with fluid),
- low blood pressure (hypotension),
- drowsiness, and
Liver dysfunction and overgrowth of the gums also may occur. Diltiazem can cause mildly abnormal liver tests that usually return to normal with discontinuation of the medication. When diltiazem is given to individuals with heart failure, symptoms of heart failure may worsen because these drugs reduce the ability of the heart to pump blood. Like other drugs for high blood pressure, diltiazem is associated with sexual dysfunction.
What is the dosage for diltiazem?
- Adult oral doses for chest pain or high blood pressure (hypertension) range between 120 and 540 mg daily. Dosing varies depending on formulation and use.
- Immediate release tablets are administered up to 4 times a day.
- Extended release formulations are administered once daily at approximately the same time each day and should not be crushed or chewed.
- Injectable forms are used for treating atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia.
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Which drugs or supplements interact with diltiazem?
Administration of diltiazem with digoxin (Lanoxin) can increase digoxin blood levels. Therefore, blood levels of digoxin usually are monitored to avoid toxicity from digoxin. Similarly, concurrent administration of diltiazem with an anti-seizure medication, carbamazepine (Tegretol), can increase blood levels of the seizure medication, and occasionally lead to toxicity. Diltiazem increases blood levels of lovastatin (Mevacor), atorvastatin (Lipitor) and simvastatin (Zocor), possibly increasing the risk of adverse effects. Diltiazem may increase blood levels of buspirone (Buspar), midazolam (Versed), triazolam (Halcion) and diazepam (Valium) by reducing their breakdown and elimination from the body by the liver. This can lead to toxicity from these drugs. Rifampin (Rifamate, Rifadin, Rimactane) reduces the effect of diltiazem by reducing its levels in blood to undetectable levels.
Is diltiazem safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Diltiazem is excreted in breast milk. To avoid adverse effects in the infant, diltiazem should not be taken while nursing.
What else should I know about diltiazem?
What preparations of diltiazem are available?
- Tablets (immediate release): 30, 60, 90, and 120 mg.
- Tablets (extended release): 120, 180, 240, 300, 360, 420 mg.
- Capsules (extended release): 120, 180, 240, 300, 360, 420 mg.
- Powder for injection: 100 mg.
- Injectable Solution: 5 mg/ml.
How should I keep diltiazem stored?
Tablets, capsules and powder for injection should be stored at room temperature, 15 C and 30 C (59 F and 86 F). Solution for injection should be stored at 2 C and 8 C (36 F and 46 F).
Diltiazem (Cardizem, Cardizem CD, Cardizem LA, Dilacor XR, Tiazac, Cartia XT and several others) is a medication prescribed to treat angina, high blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythms. Diltiazem is in a class of drugs called calcium channel blockers (CCBs). Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and precautions should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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