Verapamil is a Calcium Channel Blocker (CCB) that relaxes the muscles of the heart and blood vessels. It is prescribed in cases of high blood pressure, chest pain and disorders in heart rhythm. Its action is more selective for the heart muscles as compared to other CCBs.
Uses of Verapamil
- Verapamil is used to treat the following conditions:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Chest pain (angina)
- Heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias)
- Atrial fibrillation/ flutter
- Secondary prevention of myocardial infarction
Contraindications of Verapamil
When should one not use Verapamil
- Allergy to Verapamil
- Heart failure
- Low blood pressure
- If you often faint along with slow heartbeats
- If you suffer from a condition known as sick sinus syndrome or atrioventricular block
- Any problem in the heart chambers
Side effects of Verapamil
Common side effects of this drug are:
- Minor side effects:
- Sore throat, nose block, sinus pain
- Head pain
- Acidity, belching
- Joint pain and swelling
- Stomach upset
- Muscle pain
- Sleep trouble
- Bowel trouble
- Major side effects:
- Allergic reaction: itching, swelling or rash on any part of the body
- Fever, chills, diarrhea, vomiting, body pain
- Weakness, faintness, light headedness
- Heartbeats becoming irregular, fast or slow
- Weight gain, swelling over ankles and feet, breathlessness with slightest exertion
- Chest pain, gasping for breath, wheezing, anxiety, cough with frothy mucus
- Your blood pressure, liver and kidney functions need to be assessed regularly while you are on this drug
Precautions and Warnings of Verapamil
Can I take Verapamil during pregnancy?
Verapamil is not considered ‘safe’ for use during pregnancy. Hence, it should not usually be used during pregnancy because other relatively safer alternatives are available to control the blood pressure level.
Can I take Verapamil while breastfeeding?
Whether Verapamil passes into the mother’s milk is not precisely known. Hence, it is preferably avoided during breastfeeding.
Can I drive if I have consumed Verapamil?
Be cautious as Verapamil may make you feel dizzy or sleepy.
Can I consume alcohol with Verapamil?
Drinking alcohol can increase the side effects of Verapamil and also lower your blood pressure.
Other General Warnings
Talk to your doctor if
- Inform your doctor about your medical history, especially if:
- Heart problem (aortic stenosis)
- Very low blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Recent heart attack
Mode of Action of Verapamil
How Does It Work?
- Calcium ions are needed for active contraction of smooth muscles in the heart and blood vessels. It inhibits transport of these calcium ions across membranes of heart cells and blood vessels. This inhibits cardiac and vascular smooth muscle contraction, thereby dilating the heart and arteries. Verapamil reduces the load on the heart and decreases tension in blood vessels thus lowering the blood pressureRead less
- When used for chest pain, Verapamil dilates the main vessels of the heart. This relaxes the coronary artery and prevents it from going into a spasm. When used for treating irregular heartbeat, it prolongs the time taken for conduction of an electrical stimulus in the AV node of the heartRead less
Interactions of Verapamil
Interactions with other medicines
- Digoxin or Digitalis
- Other blood pressure and heart medicines
- Some antibiotics
- HIV/ AIDS medication
- Hepatitis C medication
- Antifungal medication
- Tuberculosis medication
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs like Statins
- Seizure medication
Interactions with food items
Grapefruit juice and grapefruit should not be consumed by people who are taking Verapamil as these can increase the effects of the medicine and can cause a drastic drop in the blood pressure level.
Dietary Restrictions of Verapamil
If your doctor advised you a low-salt or low-sodium diet, follow these directions carefully.
Dosage of Verapamil
An overdose of Verapamil can be fatal. Hence, in case of an overdose, seek emergency care. You will be observed for 48 hours most likely in a hospital set up to check for any immediate or delayed reaction.
Missed a Dose
It is ideal not to miss a dose. Missed dose can be taken when you remember it if there is sufficient time left for the next scheduled dose. Do not compensate for the missed dose by taking an extra dose.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What should be discussed with my healthcare provider before I start the medication of Verapamil?
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Heart failure
- Nerve diseases like myasthenia gravis or muscular weakness
- Low blood pressure
Q: What should I know regarding the storage of medicine?
A: Store at room temperature. Away from heat, light and moisture. Keep out of reach of children.
Q: When and how to consume the medicine?
A: Take Verapamil exactly as prescribed by your physician. Do not alter the dosages unless advised. Do not suddenly stop the drug since it can have adverse reactions. Do not chew, crush or break the extended release capsule or pill. Swallow it whole with water.
- EMA. verapamil. [Accessed 13 Sep 2019] (online)
- Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006-. Verapamil. [Updated 2019 Sep 13].
- Dailymed. verapamil. [Accessed 13 Sep 2019] (online)
- Medscape. verapamil. [Accessed 13 Sep 2019] (online)
- Drugbank. verapamil. [Accessed 13 Sep 2019] (online)
Last Updated on: 05 Oct 2020 | 10:47 PM (IST)
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