What are calcium channel blockers?

Calcium channel blockers are medications that control the amount of calcium that enters the heart and arteries, allowing blood vessels to relax and reducing the workload of the heart. They also lower blood pressure and relieve chest pain (angina).

Example of Calcium Channel Blocker:

verapamil (Isoptin SR, Calan SR)

Calcium channel blockers are a group of medicines that are used to treat high blood pressure or chest pain. The calcium channel blockers actually relax blood vessels so the heart doesn't have to work so hard. These medications can manage chest pain by increasing the blood supply to the heart. Some calcium channel blockers have the added benefit of slowing your heart rate, which can further reduce blood pressure and also can control an irregular heartbeat.
Calcium channel blockers are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, coronary artery spasms, and angina. They restrict the normal flow of calcium into the cells of the heart and blood vessels. This discourages smaller vessels from narrowing and going into spasm, and it also reduces the heart's workload and need for oxygen.

Examples of calcium channel blockers include:
  • amlodipine besylate (Norvasc)
  • bepridil (Vascor)
  • diltiazem HCl (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac)
  • felodipine (Plendil)
  • isradipine (DynaCirc)
  • nicardipine HCl (Cardene)
  • nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia)
  • nisoldipine (Sular)
  • verapamil HCl (Calan, Covera, Isoptin)
Mary A. McLaughlin, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Calcium channel blockers are medicates that relax the arteries, says Mary Ann McLaughlin, MD, medical director of the Cardiac Health Program at The Mount Sinai Medical Center. In this video, she explains the drugs also have other benefits.

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