List of Every Calcium Channel Blocker

Along With a Drug Side Effect Comparison

Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are common drugs that treat high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and some causes of chest pain. They help reduce the risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes. These medications are also called calcium channel antagonists.

CCBs relax the muscles in the walls of the blood vessels, bringing down high blood pressure. They also reduce the speed of fast heartbeats and the amount of blood the heart pumps. 

True to their name, calcium channel blockers block the flow of calcium into the cells of the heart and blood vessels. They are classified into two groups based on their structure and functions. 

This article will explain how calcium channel–blocking drugs work, the most common and popular brands of calcium channel blockers, side effects, interactions, indications, and if there are nondrug alternatives to calcium channel blockers.

A person checks their blood pressure at home, with pill bottles of medication, at kitchen table

FatCamera / Getty Images

List of Calcium Channel Blockers 

There are many calcium channel blockers on the market. They all have slightly different uses, features, and side effects. Some medications combine calcium channel blockers with other drugs.

Talk to your healthcare provider about what drugs are the best options for you. Calcium channel blockers fall into several different types, so one is not necessarily the same as the others for a given diagnosis.

Conditions Treated With Calcium Channel Blockers

Conditions treated with CCBs include:

If you have side effects from your CCB, let your healthcare provider know. They can discuss lowering the dose or the other options to treat your health issues. 

Commonly Prescribed

Commonly prescribed CCBs include:

Less common CCBs include:

  • DynaCirc (isradipine) 
  • Plendil (felodipine)
  • Sular (nisoldipine)
  • Lacipil (lacidipine)
  • Conjupri (levamlodipine)
  • Nimotop (Nimodipine)
  • Vascor (Bepridil)

Some common medications are combinations of CCBs and other drugs. These drugs include:

Types

The two types of calcium channel blockers with different features and uses are:

  • Dihydropyridines (amlodipine and others) strongly affect blood vessels and are often used to treat high blood pressure. There are many dihydropyridines; their names usually end in the suffix "pine."
  • Non-dihydropyridines include benzothiazepines (diltiazem) and phenylalkylamines (verapamil) and strongly affect the heart muscle and heart rate. These do not dilate blood vessels as well as dihydropyridines. These drugs are helpful for angina and arrhythmias.

Side Effects 

Most people do not have problems taking their CCBs, but these drugs can have side effects.

The most common side effects of CCBs are:

  • Fatigue
  • Flushing
  • Swelling in the belly, ankles, or feet
  • Heartburn

The two types of calcium channel blockers have different side effects. Dihydropyridines are more likely to cause side effects like feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or flushed. They're also more likely to cause swelling.

Non-dihydropyridines, on the other hand, may cause constipation, a slow heartbeat, or a reduction in the heart's pumping ability. The non-dihydropyridines generally have fewer side effects.

Specific Side Effects

Among the most popular calcium channel blockers, there are some specific side effects to be aware of:

  • Verelan can cause liver problems, so watch for symptoms such as light-colored stools, loss of appetite, and pain in the upper right part of your belly.
  • Norvasc may cause blurred vision, confusion, hives or rash, and yellow (jaundiced) eyes or skin, and (rarely) hepatitis.
  • Dilacor may cause a severe allergic skin reaction called Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Watch for irritated or red eyes, sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes, and swollen, blistered, red, or peeling skin (with or without fever).
  • Procardia can cause intestinal complications, including bleeding and severe stomach pain.
  • Cardene can cause an allergic reaction, usually manifested by a rash, although severe anaphylaxis may occur.

Less common side effects include:

  • Changes to the heartbeat, including very fast or very slow
  • Trouble breathing, including wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath
  • Issues with swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Upset stomach
  • Constipation
  • Gingival hyperplasia (an overgrowth of gums around the teeth)

Who Should Not Take CCB Medications?

If your healthcare provider is considering prescribing you a calcium channel blocker, make sure they know about the following:

  • Any allergies you have to foods or dyes
  • Any current pregnancy, breastfeeding, or desire to get pregnant
  • Your age (if you’re 60 or older, you may have more side effects)
  • Have shallow blood pressure, heart failure, or other heart or blood vessel conditions
  • Any history of heart rhythm problems
  • Any kidney or liver disease
  • Any issues with blood sugar, including diabetes
  • A Parkinson’s disease diagnosis (a progressive disorder in which brain cells that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine die)
  • A history of depression

Interactions

Before taking a calcium channel blocker, let your healthcare provider know all your medicines and supplements. 

When mixed with other drugs or supplements, CCBs can have adverse effects. This even applies to what you eat. These drugs may have interactions with certain foods, including grapefruit and magnesium.

Some CCBs, including felodipine and nisoldipine, interact with grapefruit. After taking your medicine, wait four hours to eat or drink grapefruit. Grapefruit can impact how your body breaks down these drugs, leading to dangerously high levels. Pomegranate juice has the same chemical that may interact with calcium channel blockers.

Talk to your healthcare provider about your magnesium intake. Magnesium is in nuts, bananas, spinach, okra, brown rice, and shredded wheat cereal. High magnesium levels in the diet may impact how your body uses calcium channel blockers.

Other medications and supplements that might interact with CCBs include:

  • Other medicines for heart issues: ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, antiarrhythmics, diuretics (water pills), and digitalis
  • Corticosteroids
  • Calcium or vitamin D supplements

Check the warnings and interactions label for specific drugs, foods, and supplements that may interact with any CCB (or other medicine) you're taking.

Your healthcare provider will also tell you not to smoke when taking a CCB. The interaction of nicotine and tobacco with the drug could result in a potentially dangerous rapid heartbeat.

If you're taking a combination drug, check for other interactions the drugs may have. 

Alternatives to CCB Medications 

Beta blockers are often the preferred medication for angina, so ask your healthcare provider if they might be an option. 

Lifestyle changes are the best way to control high blood pressure. These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet low in salt
  • Limiting your alcohol use
  • Stopping smoking or vaping
  • Being physically active
  • Losing weight
  • Managing your stress levels

These changes can help reduce the need for blood pressure medicine in some people. Talk to your healthcare provider about lifestyle changes that could help you reduce or wean off your calcium channel blockers. 

If you’re experiencing side effects from your calcium channel blockers, talk to your healthcare provider about trying a different type of high blood pressure medication. These may include:

  • Diuretics: Such as Hygroton (chlorthalidone)
  • Beta-blockers: Such as Tenormin (atenolol)
  • ACE inhibitors: Such as Zestril (lisinopril), Vasotec (enalapril), and Lotensin (benazepril)
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers: Such as Micardis (telmisartan)
  • Alpha-blockers: Such as Cardura (doxazosin)
  • Alpha-2 receptor agonists: Such as methyldopa
  • Central agonists: Such as Catapres (clonidine hydrochloride)
  • Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors: Such as Hylorel (guanadrel)
  • Vasodilators: Such as Apresoline (hydralazine hydrochloride)

Summary

Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are common drugs. They treat high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and some causes of chest pain. They help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The most common calcium channel blockers are Verelan, Norvasc, and Dilacor. Common side effects include fatigue, flushing, swelling, and heartburn.

Tell your healthcare provider about your allergies and other illnesses. Make sure to mention previous heart issues in your personal or family history. And tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or want to get pregnant. 

Some CCBs interact with grapefruit juice, magnesium in the diet, and other drugs. Your healthcare provider will tell you to stop smoking. 

If you don’t want to take a CCB, you can try many other high blood pressure medication types. You can also make lifestyle changes to bring down high blood pressure. 

A Word From Verywell 

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure or another heart issue, your healthcare provider may put you on calcium channel blockers. These medications can help prevent further heart problems, especially dangerous events like heart attacks and strokes. 

These are widespread medicines, and they’re generally well tolerated. If you have side effects, there are many other drugs your doctor can try. If you have high blood pressure, you can also work toward getting off these medicines with lifestyle changes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which calcium channel blocker is safest?

    Most people do not have problems taking their calcium channel blockers, but these drugs can have side effects. Benzothiazepines (diltiazem) and phenylalkylamines (verapamil) generally have fewer side effects. The best CCB for you is based on many factors you can discuss with your healthcare provider.

  • What can you take instead of calcium channel blockers?

    If you aren’t tolerating calcium channel blockers well, consider a different type of high blood pressure medication. These may include diuretics, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, and vasodilators.

    In addition, lifestyle changes like eating better and getting more active can help lower high blood pressure naturally, reducing the need for medications. Talk to your healthcare provider about lifestyle changes that could help you reduce or wean off your calcium channel blockers.

  • Why was amlodipine in combination tablets with valsartan recalled in the United States and Canada in 2018?

    An impurity that is a probable human carcinogen was found in lots of valsartan (an ARB) made by Mylan India. This was used in generic combination tablets with amlodipine by Teva Pharmaceuticals. The company voluntarily recalled the products in 2018. Amlodipine was not banned in the United States or Canada.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jennifer Welsh
Jennifer Welsh is a Connecticut-based science writer and editor with over ten years of experience under her belt. She’s previously worked and written for WIRED Science, The Scientist, Discover Magazine, LiveScience, and Business Insider.