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Nifedipine

Nifedipine

Uses

This medication is used to prevent certain types of chest pain (angina). It may allow you to exercise more and decrease the frequency of angina attacks. Nifedipine belongs to a class of medications known as calcium channel blockers. It works by relaxing blood vessels so blood can flow more easily. This medication must be taken regularly to be effective. It should not be used to treat attacks of chest pain when they occur. Use other medications (such as sublingual nitroglycerin) to relieve attacks of chest pain as directed by your doctor. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for details.

Older adults should discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with their doctor or pharmacist, as well as other possibly safer forms of nifedipine (such as the long-acting tablets).

Why is this medication prescribed?

Nifedipine is used to treat high blood pressure and to control angina (chest pain). Nifedipine is in a class of medications called calcium-channel blockers. It lowers blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels so the heart does not have to pump as hard. It controls chest pain by increasing the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart.

High blood pressure is a common condition and when not treated, can cause damage to the brain, heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other parts of the body. Damage to these organs may cause heart disease, a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, loss of vision, and other problems. In addition to taking medication, making lifestyle changes will also help to control your blood pressure. These changes include eating a diet that is low in fat and salt, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising at least 30 minutes most days, not smoking, and using alcohol in moderation.

How should this medicine be used?

Nifedipine comes as a capsule and an extended-release (long-acting) tablet to take by mouth. The capsule is usually taken three or four times a day. The extended-release tablet should be taken once daily on an empty stomach, either 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. To help you remember to take nifedipine, take it at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take nifedipine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

How it works

Nifedipine belongs to a class of drugs called calcium channel blockers. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

What are the side effects of nifedipine?

Side effects of nifedipine are generally mild, and reversible. Most side effects are expected consequences of the dilation of the arteries. The most common side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Flushing
  • Edema (swelling) of the lower extremities

Calcium channel blockers help lower blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels throughout your body. As a result, less pressure is built up and your heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood.

Calcium channel blockers help to prevent angina in two ways. First, they lower pressure in the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to your heart). As a result, your heart receives more blood and oxygen. Second, they help prevent spasm of the coronary arteries. (A spasm is a temporary, sudden narrowing of these arteries.)

Precautions

Before taking this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

This medication should not be used if you have a certain medical condition. Before using this medicine, consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have: certain heart problems (such as congestive heart failure, aortic stenosis).

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