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Norvasc Patient Tips

Medically reviewed on Sep 28, 2017 by C. Fookes, BPharm.

How it works

  • Norvasc is a brand (trade) name for amlodipine.
  • Norvasc works directly on heart muscles and blood vessels to relax and dilate them and is used to treat conditions such as angina and high blood pressure.
  • Experts believe that amlodipine (Norvasc) works by inhibiting the movement of calcium ions across cardiac (heart) muscle and the smooth muscle lining blood vessel walls. This effect dilates (widens) blood vessels, reducing how hard the heart has to work to pump blood around the body, which reduces blood pressure. This, in turn, reduces the demand for oxygen by the heart which reduces symptoms of angina. Heart rate may also be slightly reduced and the capacity for exercise is increased.
  • Norvasc belongs to the class of medicines known as calcium channel blockers (may also be called a calcium channel antagonist).

Upsides

  • May be used for the treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension), alone or in combination with other agents for high blood pressure.
  • May be used as an ongoing treatment to relieve symptoms such as chest pain in people with chronic stable angina, or angina due to coronary artery spasm. Will not relieve acute episodes of angina (other medications such as sublingual nitroglycerin are used for this purpose).
  • Available in 2.5mg, 5mg, and 10mg tablets.
  • May be preferred over other types of heart medications (for example ACE inhibitors, ARBs) for the treatment of hypertension in African-Americans.
  • Can improve a person's tolerance to exercise and keep their blood pressure at acceptable levels during exercise. Heart rate at maximal exercise does not change or is slightly reduced.
  • Does not weaken how hard the heart contracts (does not have a negative inotropic effect).
  • Lowers blood pressure in both the standing and the sitting position. Does not tend to cause as much of a drop in blood pressure as some other blood pressure lowering agents when going from a lying down to standing position. Does not cause a reflex tachycardia (a compensatory fast heart rate that often occurs when blood pressure drops).
  • Once daily dosage.
  • Norvasc is available as a generic under the name amlodipine.

Downsides

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Edema (swelling around the ankles) is the main side effect. Shortness of breath, dizziness, fast or irregular heartbeat, flushing, sleepiness, and wheezing have also been reported.
  • Appears to have little or no interaction with grapefruit or grapefruit juice products.
  • Lower dosages may be needed in patients with liver disease.
  • May interact with a number of other drugs including those that are metabolized through hepatic enzymes CYP3A4, erythromycin, itraconazole, sildenafil, simvastatin, and immunosuppressants.
  • May not be suitable for people with certain preexisting heart conditions, in those with low blood pressure (less than 90 mmHg systolic), or in those with liver disease.
  • May interact with a number of other drugs including cimetidine, clonidine, digoxin, anesthetics, those that are metabolized by certain hepatic enzymes such as CYP3A4, statins, and some other drugs that also affect the heart (such as beta-blockers).

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

Bottom Line

Norvasc may be used for the treatment of angina or high blood pressure but may cause edema in the lower legs and feet.

Tips

  • May be taken with or without food.
  • Take Norvasc around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
  • The manufacturer states that there is no concern about taking Norvasc with grapefruit or grapefruit juice products.
  • Be careful when going from a sitting or lying down position to standing because your blood pressure may drop which may make you dizzy, increasing your likelihood of falls.
  • Report to your doctor any signs of dizziness, tiredness, flushing, nausea, indigestion, shortness of breath, excessive weight gain, muscle rigidity or tremors, or edema.
  • May cause sleepiness and affect your ability to drive or operate machinery.
  • Dial 911 or report to an emergency department if wheezing, facial swelling, chest tightness, cough, or seizures suddenly occur.
  • Although Norvasc may be used to prevent ongoing angina symptoms such as chest pain, it does not relieve an acute attack of angina. Most people are also prescribed a medication like sublingual nitroglycerin for this purpose. Talk to your doctor if you do not have a medication that you can take for sudden-onset chest pain.

Response and Effectiveness

  • Peak concentrations occur within 6 to 12 hours of administration. Norvasc's effect lasts for approximately 24 hours.

References

Norvasc (amlodipine) [Package Insert]. Revised 04/2017. Pfizer Laboratories Div Pfizer Inc https://www.drugs.com/pro/norvasc.html

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Norvasc only for the indication prescribed.

Copyright 1996-2018 Drugs.com. Revision Date: 2017-09-28 00:54:14

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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