Amlodipine, also sold as the brand name Istin, is a medication used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). Amlodipine is a type of calcium channel blocker. This means it blocks the calcium channels in your body, which helps to relax and widen the blood vessels. This widening of the blood vessels means that blood can flow through them more easily, reducing your blood pressure.
Amlodipine treats high blood pressure and prevents heart attacks, heart disease and strokes from occurring in the future. As a calcium channel blocker, amlodipine interferes with the action of calcium, which usually causes narrowing of your blood vessels. By blocking the action of calcium, the blood vessels relax, and blood flows more freely around the body. Amlodipine is also used to treat angina (chest pain), helping blood reach the heart more efficiently.
Amlodipine will start to work from day one, although it may take a few weeks before making a real difference. High blood pressure often won’t cause symptoms, so you may not feel any different. This doesn’t mean that you should stop taking your medicine. If you are taking it to treat angina, you will usually notice an improvement in your symptoms after a number of weeks.
Having regular checkups with your doctor where your blood pressure is measured is the best way to check how well the amlodipine is working. You may also be able to use a home blood pressure monitor, to keep an eye on your own blood pressure between appointments.
The active ingredient is amlodipine mesilate monohydrate. Each tablet contains either 5 or 10mg, depending on the dose of the tablet.
The other ingredients in amlodipine tablets are microcrystalline cellulose, calcium hydrogen phosphate, sodium starch glycollate type A and magnesium stearate.
Please note: inactive ingredients may vary between different brands of generic amlodipine.
Amlodipine is usually taken once a day, and you should always follow the instructions given by your doctor. You should take it at the same time each day, and it doesn’t have to be taken with food. You should avoid consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice while you are taking amlodipine as the fruit can increase the level of amlodipine in the body, making you more likely to suffer from side effects.
You can dissolve the tablets in a glass of water if you find that easier, provided you drink it immediately. Always take the prescribed dose, either as a full tablet or by measuring it out if the amlodipine is in liquid form.
Not everyone will experience the side effects listed, and some are more common than others.
Common or very common side effects include:
More than 1 in 100 people will experience these side effects, which usually subside after the first few weeks.
Uncommon side effects (occur in less than 1 in 100 people) include:
Rare or very rare side effects include:
Serious side effects, which would necessitate medical attention include:
Amlodipine is not suitable for the following groups of people:
You should tell your doctor if any of the following apply:
You should inform your doctor of any other medications you are taking, in particular:
You can drink alcohol while taking amlodipine, but it can enhance the effect on your blood pressure, leaving you feeling sleepy, dizzy or causing headaches. If you get these side effects, you may want to consider cutting out alcohol for the duration of your treatment.
Amlodipine is not safe to take during pregnancy as it can be harmful to a developing baby. Alert your doctor right away if you fall pregnant while you are taking this medicine. There are safer alternatives they can recommend.
While amlodipine won’t affect your contraception, the combined oral contraceptive pill can reduce the effectiveness of amlodipine as it can cause high blood pressure itself. If you have high blood pressure, it’s unlikely that you’ll be suitable for the combined oral contraceptive pill, so you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist about an appropriate alternative.
It’s fine to take paracetamol with amlodipine, but you should always inform your doctor of any additional medicines you are taking, including over the counter or herbal remedies, in case they cause interference.
Raynaud’s syndrome, where the circulation is reduced to the fingers and toes when you get too cold, can be treated with amlodipine. It helps to get your blood flowing more freely, which can reduce discomfort and boost your circulation. Only ever take medication for the purpose for which it was prescribed.
There is no evidence to suggest that amlodipine will affect female fertility. But, it may be possible that amlodipine reduces sperm count in men; however, there is limited evidence. However, untreated high blood pressure is also associated with reduced sperm quality.
While some types of medications for high blood pressure can cause erectile dysfunction, it’s rare for amlodipine to have this effect. There are no known effects on female sexual function.
If you experience headaches, these shouldn’t last longer than a week. Drinking plenty of fluids, resting and taking painkillers can help to manage this. If you get dizzy after taking amlodipine, either sit or lie down until the dizziness passes. Cutting down on alcohol, coffee and tea will help to ease facial flushing and raising your legs at a 90-degree angle can ease swollen ankles.
Making healthy changes to your lifestyle will improve the health of your heart and have a positive effect on your blood pressure. Some things you can do include:
Always consult your doctor first. You may still need to take amlodipine to manage your blood pressure.
The different variety of calcium channel blockers available work in different ways. Which medicine is best for you will depend on what condition you are being treated for, the severity of your symptoms and other factors such as age. Other calcium channel blockers include nifedipine, felodipine, lercanidipine, diltiazem and verapamil. Some of these are used to treat other conditions aside from hypertension.
Amlodipine belongs to a group of medicines called calcium-channel blockers used to reduce blood pressure, whereas a statin is used to reduce cholesterol.
If you stop taking amlodipine, your blood pressure is likely to rise again. You should continue to take it as prescribed even if your blood pressure has improved.
If amlodipine makes you dizzy, then you shouldn’t drive until the dizziness wears off. This can be dangerous both for you and others on the road.
Amlodipine is a long term treatment that, combined with a healthy lifestyle, manages your condition by keeping your blood pressure at the optimum level, reducing your risk of having heart problems as a result.
Making positive lifestyle changes may help amlodipine to work faster. Exercising, eating a healthy diet and watching your salt intake are important factors in maintaining a healthy heart.
It’s likely that you will need amlodipine for the rest of your life as this is a long term treatment. However, by continuing to take your medication, you are protecting yourself from having a heart attack or stroke in the future or from developing heart disease.
You should continue to take amlodipine even if your blood pressure becomes lower, as this means the medication is working. If you stop taking it, then your blood pressure is likely to return to its previous level. So you need to keep taking amlodipine to maintain a healthy reading.
You should store amlodipine at room temperature away from damp. It is a good idea to avoid keeping it inside the bathroom and to keep it in the original packaging. Always keep medications out of reach of children and pets.
Some observational studies have found that calcium channel blockers may be associated with a small increased risk of developing cancer. However, a large observational study found there was no association between the use of calcium channel blockers and an increased incidence of cancer. More research is required to come to more robust conclusions.
You should consult your doctor before you stop taking amlodipine, as the dose is usually gradually decreased to avoid a dangerous spike in blood pressure.
Amlodipine is not an addictive substance.
Amlodipine can be used to treat migraines, although there’s not enough evidence to show that this treatment is effective. It’s likely to be prescribed if other migraine treatments have been ineffective or aren’t suitable for any reason. Don’t try to self-medicate with amlodipine, only take it as prescribed.
While anxiety could cause a spike in your blood pressure, amlodipine is not designed to treat anxiety. The medicine relaxes your blood vessels but does not treat your mental health. If you are experiencing issues with anxiety, then seek help from your doctor.
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