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Calcium channel blockers


What is this medication?

Calcium Channel blockers (CCBs) are sometimes called calcium channel antagonists.

Calcium channel blockers include:

  • Amlodipine (Norvasc®)
  • Diltiazem (Cardiazem®, Tiazac®, Tiazac® XC )
  • Felodipine (Plendil®)
  • Nifedipine XL (Adalat XL®)
  • Verapamil (Isoptin®, Isoptin® SR, Verelan®)

Be aware:

  • Generic names are listed first.
  • Canadian brand names names are in brackets.
  • This list doesn’t include every brand name.
  • If your prescription isn’t listed, your pharmacist is the best source for more information.
What does it do?

CCBs help control high blood pressure, chest pain caused by heart disease and arrhythmia.


CCBs are vasodilators. This means they widen and relax your blood vessels. This can help:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Slow your heartbeat
  • Control an irregular heartbeat
  • Reduce chest pain

Be Aware: CCBs are often taken with other medications, such as beta-blockers or diuretics.

How do I take it?

There are many different kinds of calcium channel blockers. How much medicine you need will depend on the CCB you are taking.

You and your healthcare provider will determine the type and dose that’s right for you.

Be Aware: If you are taking an “extended-release” CCB, never chew, cut, crush, or dissolve the pills.

Are there any interactions?

Some medications can stop your heart medicine from working properly. They may even cause other health problems.

Prescription and non-prescription medications can interact with CCBs. These include:

Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice (fresh or frozen). It can boost the effect of some CCBs. This could make your blood pressure too low.

Visit Health Canada to learn more about The Effects of Grapefruit and its Juice on Certain Drugs.

Avoid smoking. CCBs and smoking can cause rapid heartbeat (tachycardia).

Tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all the medications you are taking. These include:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Non-prescription drugs
  • Inhalers
  • Creams or ointments
  • Over-the-counter or natural health products
  • Alternative therapies
  • Vitamins, minerals, or supplements
  • Herbal remedies
  • Homeopathic medicines
  • Traditional remedies, such as Chinese medicines
Are there any side effects?

CCBs have relatively few side effects. And they tend to be irritating vs. serious.

Side effects may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Heartburn
  • Swelling in your ankles or feet

Be aware: It is not safe to stop taking a CCB without consulting your healthcare provider.

If you have side effects, talk to your pharmacist or healthcare provider.

Lifestyle changes that can also help

There are two ways to control and manage your heart health: medication and lifestyle.

Medication can help you control heart disease and high blood pressure, but it cannot cure it.

A healthy lifestyle can help you keep medication to a minimum.

Visit heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy.  Learn how to keep your heart healthy with current information and advice from Heart and Stroke Foundation experts.

Talk to your healthcare provider about the most beneficial lifestyle goals for you.

Resources

Your healthcare provider or pharmacist are your best sources of information. You can also learn more about medications at any of these trusted sites.

Health Canada - Drugs and Health Products
Provides health and medical information for Canadians to maintain and improve their health.

Learn more about:

Your ministry of health also offers health resources in your province or territory. For example, Ontario’s MedsCheck program provides free pharmacist consultations. And British Columbia’s Senior Healthcare web page provides information about important health programs.