Treating High Blood Pressure With Calcium Channel Blockers

Treating High Blood Pressure With Calcium Channel Blockers


Calcium channel blockers are often prescribed to lower heart rates and to lower blood pressure. Like beta blockers, calcium channel blockers may improve blood flow and improve vascular tone to narrower vessel.

Some calcium channel blockers are even endothelial cell friendly, that is, they encourage smooth muscle relaxation in the inner lining of your blood vessels in preventing spasm and helping them dilate, thus effectively lowering blood pressure.

A few commonly prescribed calcium channel blockers include verapamil (Isoptin, Calan SR, and Verelan), amlodipine (Norvasc), felodipine (Plendil) and sustained-release nifedipine (Procardia XL).

Potential side effects of calcium channel blockers include ankle swelling, constipation, fatigue, headache, dizziness, bleeding gums, lung congestion, heart palpitations, nausea, and abdominal cramps.

Considerable controversy has arisen regarding increasing mortality in some patients treated with short-acting calcium channel blockers; however, I recommend that you stick to the longer acting ones.

Check with your doctor to make sure that you are on a long-acting second or third generation calcium blocker. In addition, using caution when you combine calcium channel blockers with digoxin for treatment of congestive heart failure or atrial fibrillation.

Some calcium channel blockers can increase your digoxin levels to dangerous levels, although digoxin is not used very much any longer.

Potential Nutrient Depletion:

Nutrient depletion is another common side effect of calcium channel blockers.

Nutrients that may deplete in the body as the result of taking calcium channel blockers include magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, zinc, Q10 and folic acid.

Consequently, you want to make sure that your supplementation program includes these.

Good food sources for magnesium include:

Avocado, wheat germ, almonds, shredded wheat, pumpkin seeds, cashews, spinach. Good foods for B6 include: Garbanzo beans, chicken breast, oatmeal.

Good foods for potassium include:

Figs, avocados, papayas, bananas, dates, skim milk, bulgar. Good foods for zinc include: Oysters, beef shank, chicken legs, pork tenderloin. Good foods for Q10 include: Beef, chicken, trout, wild salmon and broccoli. Good foods for folic acid include: Beef liver, fortified breakfast cereals, spinach and great northern beans.

Best in health,

Dean Silver, M.D.