Nifedipine is a medicine used to manage chest pain and high blood pressure and chest pain. It belongs to a group of drugs called ‘calcium channel blockers.’
Uses of Nifedipine
- High blood pressure (mild to moderate hypertension)
- Chest pain related to heart disease (stable angina pectoris – chest pain due to inadequate oxygen supply to heart)
Contraindications of Nifedipine
When should one not use Nifedipine
- You are allergic to Nifedipine or any of its components
- You had a heart attack within the last month
- You have sudden, irregular chest pain
- If you are taking Rifampicin (used to treat TB)
- If you are diagnosed disease with infections of the liver, intestines, oesophagus (food tube) or had any surgeries done for these organs
- You have any heart valve disease or you ever collapsed because your heart could not pump enough blood (cardiogenic shock)
Side effects of Nifedipine
Common side effects of this drug are:
- Shortness of breath
- Reddened skin
- Generalized discomfort
- Swelling of ankles and legs
- Stomach pain, stomach upset, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, dry mouth, muscle cramps, dizziness, anxiety, dizziness, spinning of the head, painful or difficult urination, improper penile erectionread less
- Severe allergic reactions (low blood pressure, breathing difficulty, fast breathing), skin swelling, rapid heart rate, itching, blisters, mouth gum disease
Precautions and Warnings of Nifedipine
Can I take Nifedipine during pregnancy?
Adequate data is not available. Available information suggests a possibility to harm the unborn baby while taking Nifedipine, it is not recommended in pregnancy unless it is necessary, and there are no other alternatives.
Can I take Nifedipine while breastfeeding?
Nifedipine is secreted in breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You are advised to discontinue either Nifedipine or breastfeeding.
Can I drive if I have consumed Nifedipine?
Nifedipine may make you feel dizzy, faint, exhausted or have visual disturbances. Do not drive if you experience such symptoms. Even in the absence of any symptoms, driving for long distances is not advisable.
Can I consume alcohol with Nifedipine?
Both alcohol and Nifedipine lower blood pressure, and alcohol is also harmful for the heart. Hence you may stay away from alcohol while taking Nifedipine.
Other General Warnings
Talk to your doctor if
- You have low blood pressure or a weak heart
- You have diabetes
- You are on dialysis for kidney failure
- You have liver problems
- If you notice increased breathlessness, swelling of the ankles or sudden or irregular chest pains, inform your doctor immediately
Mode of Action of Nifedipine
How Does It Work?
Calcium ions are needed for effective working of smooth muscles in the heart and blood vessels. Nifedipine blocks calcium channels and thus causes blood vessels to relax (decreases blood pressure), improves oxygen supply to the heart and the heart to beat slowly (lowers blood pressure and chest pain).
Interactions of Nifedipine
Interactions with other medicines
- Any other medicines to treat high blood pressure
- Certain medicines used to treat the heart (Diltiazem, Digoxin, Quinidine, Atenolol, Metaprolol, Propranolol)
- Cimetidine (reduces stomach acid)
- Anti-seizure medications (Carbamazepine, Phenytoin, Valproic Acid)
- Certain medicines used to treat bacterial infections (Rifampicin, Erythromycin)
- Antifungals (Ketoconazole, Itraconazole, Fluconazole)
- Certain medicines used to treat HIV/ AIDS (Indinavir, Nelfinavir, Ritonavir, Saquinavir, Amprenavir)
- Antidepressant and anti-anxiety medicines (Fluoxetine, Nefazodone, Phenobarbital)
- Tacrolimus (immunosuppressant)
Interactions with food items
Nifedipine does not interact with food and can be taken before or after meals.
Dietary Restrictions of Nifedipine
Avoid grapefruit or its juice if you are on Nifedipine as it increases the medicine levels in your body, leading to side effects. When you are starting treatment with Nifedipine, make sure you did not consume grapefruit or its juice for at least three days.
Dosage of Nifedipine
High overdose of Nifedipine can be life-threatening (depending on the condition it is used for) and there may be excessive lowering of blood pressure, slow, fast or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, fainting. Inform your doctor if you have any discomfort and in the presence of any disturbing symptoms, seek medical attention without delay.
Missed a Dose
Take the missed dose as early as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time (less than 6 hours) for your next scheduled dose. Do not take a double dose to match up for the missed dose.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Is there anything else I should know while taking Nifedipine?
- Be alert for any unwanted symptoms
- Inform your doctor if you are taking any new medicines or any irregular heartbeats, chest pain or dizziness
- Do not self-adjust or stop the medicine on your own
- Do not take any calcium supplements or high calcium foods (milk, cheese, yoghurt, etc.) as they may affect the efficacy of Nifedipine
- The medicine should not be given in children and adolescents below 18 years of age
Q: I don’t feel comfortable taking Nifedipine. Can I stop taking the medicine?
- No, you should not stop or reduce the dose of Nifedipine without the consultation of your doctor
- Discontinuing the medicine abruptly can cause high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats or chest pain which can be critical
- The dosage has to be reduced gradually or replaced with a suitable medicine under the supervision of your doctor
- Take medicine exactly as prescribed
Last Updated on: 05 Oct 2020 | 10:47 PM (IST)
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