What is Amlodipine?
Amlodipine is a medicine that belongs to a group called calcium antagonists, used to treat high blood pressure and a chest pain known as angina.
How does Amlodipine work?
When treating high blood pressure, Amlodipine works by relaxing the blood vessels, allowing blood to pass through them more easily. In the treatment of angina, this medication works by improving blood supply to the heart so it can receive more oxygen and relieve pain.
What are the benefits of taking Amlodipine?
High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) or angina can be linked to a number of factors, such as a family history, a diet high in salt or being overweight or inactive.
In addition to some lifestyle changes (such as smoking and/or drinking less and exercising more), it’s often advised to take medication, such as Amlodipine, to manage the conditions in order to prevent more serious ailments such as stroke, heart attack or blood clots.
How do I use Amlodipine?
Amlodipine is a prescription-only medication. Always follow the advice of your doctor and read the patient information leaflet provided in the medication packet.
Take the tablets by swallowing whole with a drink of water, before or after food. You should take it at the same time of day, and you should not take Amlodipine with grapefruit juice.
Amlodipine contains the active ingredient amlodipine (as amlodipine besilate), in strengths of either 5mg or 10mg per tablet.
The normal dose is one 5mg tablet a day, however your doctor may decide to increase this to 10mg if they feel you need it. If you have kidney or liver problems, you should consult your doctor so they can let you know of the appropriate dose.
If you forget to take your Amlodipine tablet then you should skip the forgotten dose and move straight onto the next one. Don’t worry but don’t double up on your dose to make up for a missed one.
If you take more Amlodipine than you should, then go to your nearest emergency department immediately. An overdose can have symptoms such as extreme dizziness, problems with breathing or feeling weak so lying down with your arms and legs up is advised.
Side effects & precautions
Before taking Amlodipine, you should always first consult your doctor. You should not take Amlodipine if any of the following apply to you:
- are allergic (hypersensitive) to amlodipine or any of the other ingredients of this medicine or to any other calcium antagonists
- are suffering from cardiogenic shock
- are suffering from narrowing of the aortic heart valve or cardiogenic shock or if you suffer from heart failure after a heart attack
- suffer from chest pain at rest or with minimal effort
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
- have severe low blood pressure (hypotension).
Your prescription of Amlodipine may also be affected by a number of other factors, so you should make your doctor aware if any of the following apply:
- have heart failure or have suffered a heart attack during the past month
- Heart failure
- Severe increase in blood pressure
- have liver problems
- are giving this medicine to a child under 18 years of age
- are elderly
Like many medications with active ingredients, Amlodipine can affect or be affected by other medicines. Particular medications that you may experience this with include the following:
- Medicines that can lower blood pressure
- Ketoconazole and itraconazole (used to treat skin and fungal infections)
- antiviral medicines used to treat HIV infections
- Nefazodone (medicine to treat depression)
- St. John’s wort (herbal medicine)
- Dexamethasone (corticosteroid used to treat inflammation)
- verapamil, diltiazem (heart medicines)
- dantrolene (for severe body temperature abnormalities)
- tacrolimus (medicine used to alter your immune system)
- simvastatin (cholesterol lowering medicine)
- cyclosporine (an immunosuppressant)
- medicines for epilepsy
- Sildenafil (medicine for impotence)
If you are taking any of the above medications, then you should make your doctor aware so that they can advise whether or not Amlodipine will be the best course of action for you.
Like with all sufferers of high blood pressure or angina, you should pair your medication with some lifestyle changes such as eating healthily, exercising regularly and avoiding excessive smoking or drinking.
You should stay away from grapefruit and grapefruit juice while on Amlodipine, as it’s been proven to interact with the medication and can lower your blood pressure too much.
The most common side effects of using Amlodipine include:
- fluid retention
- Headache, dizziness, sleepiness
- Palpitations (awareness of your heart beat)
- Abdominal pain, feeling sick, altered bowel habits, diarrhoea, constipation, indigestion
- Tiredness, weakness
- Visual disturbances, double vision
- Muscle cramps
- Swollen ankles
If you do experience one or more of these side effects and they persist or worsen, then inform your doctor right away. You should also contact your doctor if you notice any serious side effects, such as wheeziness, swelling of the tongue or throat, or severe skin reactions.