Amlodipine is a calcium antagonist produced and marketed by Actavis pharmaceutical company. As a generic form of somewhat better-known Istin, it is exceptionally efficient in the treatment of angina pectoris and relieving the symptoms of this condition. More specifically, Amlodipine works by contributing to dilation of arteries surrounding the heart, allowing easier blood passage and alleviating heightened blood pressure. With just one tablet per day, this medicine is able to efficiently curb angina symptoms.
One should keep in mind that Amlodipine is available in two different dosages. After talking to you and learning about your medical profile and history, as well as about the severity of your condition, your doctor will recommend the exact dose you should be taking.
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Angina pectoris: A general overview
Angina pectoris is a medical condition affecting the cardiovascular system, or more specifically, arteries. Characterised by dull and tight chest pain, angina tends to inhibit the blood flow to the heart, usually due to stiffened and narrowed arteries. In some more severe cases, the discomfort caused by the condition can extend to the left arm, back or neck. In a majority cases, an angina attack will be brought on by some of the common triggers such as intense physical activity or stress.
Types of angina
The medical experts differentiate between two categories of angina, usually called stable and unstable angina. The stable form of angina is usually marked by direct causal relation between symptoms and triggers. So, those affected by this for may experience chest pain after exercise or during periods of stress, but the symptoms will tend to diminish after rest.
On the other hand, so-called unstable angina is marked by unpredictable episodes and lower rate of responsiveness to rest and other techniques that can provide relief in case of stable angina. Unstable angina is considered by doctors to be an indicator of a decrease in heart function and as such, it should be considered to be a serious health risk that should be treated urgently.
Angina-related health risks
However, this does not mean that stable angina isn’t a health risk as people affected by this condition have an increased risk of experiencing a heart attack or a stroke. On a brighter side, there are numerous lifestyle changes and simple precautions that can help stop the condition from progressing. These include general care about one’s health and wellbeing, encompassing thing such as healthy diet, quitting smoking, lowering alcohol intake or introducing some light physical exercise into the daily routine.
Certain prescription medicines are almost always prescribed when angina is diagnosed. In this way, the doctor will try to get the symptoms under control. The exact choice of medicine will be determined by numerous factors such as frequency of angina attacks and their severity, but also by your medical history and medical profile.
The root cause of pain characteristic of angina pectoris is the lack of oxygen being transported to the heart. More specifically – the heart needs a steady supply of oxygen in order to work properly. With arteries narrowed down, the available supply simply won’t meet the demands of the muscle and as a result, the heart will have to beat faster and harder in order to compensate.
Amlodipine, active ingredient of the medicine of the same name (and also active ingredient of the branded Istin) is classified as a calcium channel blocker (also known as calcium agonist) and it works by decreasing the effects of calcium on the smooth muscles lining the arterial walls. In this way, Amlodipine will help the arteries to widen, contributing to increased passage of blood (and oxygen) to the heart.
How is Amlodipine used?
In order to ensure optimal results with Amlodipine and at the same time reduce the risk of side effects, it is important to follow the instructions provided by your prescriber exactly. If you have any questions, prior to commencing treatment, be sure to consult with your doctor or, alternatively, refer to the official patient information leaflet where you can find detailed regarding the use of this medicine.
Here we will mention just some of the most general guidelines so you can get the idea of what Amlodipine treatment entitles.
- Always take as instructed
- The usually prescribed dose is one tablet daily
- Amlodipine comes in two dosages – 5mg and 10mg
- Take the tablets whole with water, do not chew or cut them
- Never exceed the prescribed amount
- Avoid drinking grapefruit juice while taking this medicine
- If you miss a dose, do not double up on the next one to compensate – simply continue the treatment as usual
Are there any Amlodipine side effects?
As is the case with all prescription medicines, Amlodipine has also been known to cause certain side effects in some people who have been using it. While not everyone will experience these adverse effects, it is important to be aware of them in case they do occur so you can contact the emergency services and ask for advice.
You should stop taking Amlodipine and contact the doctor immediately if you notice any symptoms indicative of an allergic reaction:
- Sudden wheezing
- Chest pain
- Swelling of the tongue, eyelids, face or lips
- Skin reactions such as rash, hives, itching, peeling, blistering or swelling
- Inflammation of the mucous membranes
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Pancreas inflammation (manifested through abdominal and back pain)
If we take into consideration the frequency of occurrence of documented side effects, we could list them in the following manner:
Frequency of occurrence
Common (1 in 10 users)
Headache, dizziness, sleepiness, palpitations, flushing, abdominal pain, swelling of the ankles, tiredness
Uncommon (1 in 100 users)
Mood changes, trembling, taste abnormalities, fainting, weakness, reduced sensitivity to pain, itchy skin with red patches, difficulty when urinating
Rare (1 in 1000 users)
Very rare (1 in 10.000 users)
Lowered white blood cell count, hyperglycaemia, liver inflammation, muscle tension, photosensitivity, movement disorders, nerve problems
Keep in mind that this is just a brief summary of side effects – for a more comprehensive list please refer to the official patient information leaflet that is provided within every box of Amlodipine.
Naturally, not everybody is suitable for Amlodipine treatment and the doctor might advise against using this medicine in several scenarios.
For example, this might be the case if you are currently taking any of the following medicines:
- St John’s wort
Alternative, Amlodipine can carry significant risks for people affected by:
- Obstruction in the heart caused by aortic stenosis
- Heart failure or heart attack
- Severe case of low blood pressure