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"What are CCBs?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat are CCBs?


What are CCBs? My elderly father (age 74) just had a heart attack last month, and his doctor is putting him on CCBs. Should we expect them to have side effects, and will they be safe for him to take alongside other medicines? He takes calcium supplements for osteoporosis, if that matters.


CCB stands for a calcium channel blocker. There are two general classes of these medicines, but their uses overlap. The first class is known as the dihydropyridine receptor blockers such as Amlodipine (Norvasc) and Nifedipine (Procardia). They are used primarily for blood pressure control and are often quite effective. The most common side effect of these medicines is edema (swelling). Of course taking too much of the medicine can cause too low blood pressure which is why physicians usually start with lower doses. The second class includes Diltiazem (Cardizem) and Verapamil. They also can be used for blood pressure but are also used to reduce heart rate in patients with arrhythmia. It's always a little nerve racking when a physician adds another medication to your (or your father's) list of medicines, but in this case it's important. After a heart attack blood pressure control is especially important. It helps the heart work efficiently with the reduced blood flow that happens when there are coronary artery blockages. I can assure you that it is a medicine that is used often and is proven to control patient's blood pressure. Anytime your doctor adds a new medicine to your list, be sure to ask exactly what its used for and why you're taking it. This will make sure that you are always on the same page. Good luck.

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