Coronary artery disease is a condition where the blood vessels of your heart are disordered or damaged. Blockage of these vessels by fat deposits or inflammation are some common causes.

The coronary arteries supply oxygen and nutrients to your heart. Their diseases reduce blood supply to the heart, causing chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. If the artery is completely blocked, it may cause a heart attack.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) develops gradually, and you may have no symptoms unless there is a significant blockage or reduced blood supply. Getting regular check-ups and leading a healthy lifestyle can help prevent CAD.

Medicines that can treat the underlying cause can help manage CAD. Amlodipine is one such drug when the underlying cause is hypertension.

Here is more about CAD, its indications, and how Amlodipine can help.

What Is Coronary Artery Disease

As discussed before, diseases of blood vessels supplying the heart are known as coronary heart diseases (CAD). A build-up of cholesterol and fatty acids, called plaques, is the common cause of CAD. The build-up of plaques damage and clog the arteries and result in a condition known as atherosclerosis, a common cause of CAD.

The blockage of arteries reduces blood and nutrition supply to the heart muscles needed for optimal functioning, resulting in chest pain or heart attack.

So, how does plaque accumulate in the blood vessel?

A healthy blood vessel is elastic and smooth. The inside of these vessels is lined by cells that protect the vessel walls and support the free flow of blood through them.

While you age, the blood vessels start showing changes and develop fatty streaks. Gradually, cholesterol, fats, and calcium start depositing on the inside of blood vessels, causing minor damage. With time, other substances such as cellular waste products, inflammatory cells, and protein may stick to the walls. All these things can cause plaque formation. 

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These plaques can be of different sizes. Some of them are soft on the inside, covered with a hard cap. If this hard surface breaks or tears, the inner fatty tissue is exposed. Platelets (type of blood cells responsible for clot formation) are attracted to this area and form clots around it.

The lining of the blood vessel can also be inflamed and lose its elasticity, causing it to contract at the wrong times. This further causes the blood vessel to narrow.

Besides, the blood clot may break from the area of origin and clog some part of the vessel. If it completely blocks the artery, it stops the supply to heart muscles, resulting in a heart attack.

Risk factor for plaque formation and thus CAD include:

  • High cholesterol levels
  • Insulin resistance
  • Inactivity
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • High blood pressure
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Emotional stress
  • Family history
  • Being above 45 years for men and 55 years for women (risk is the same for menopausal women and men)

Common Warning Signs 

Insufficient blood and nutrient supply to the heart muscles may cause multiple symptoms, angina being the most common indication. This can be felt as chest heaviness, pain, squeezing, tightness, and burning.

Other symptoms of CAD may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in shoulders or arms
  • Sweating

As the plaque builds gradually, you may not have symptoms unless the artery is significantly blocked. Your heart muscles may die gradually, and this is known as a heart attack.

So, if you have any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately. 

The symptoms may be different in women than in men.

Symptoms in women

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Jaw pain
  • Back pain
  • Shortness of breath without chest pain

Treating It with Amlodipine

Amlodipine belongs to a class of drugs known as calcium channel blockers.

It lowers your blood pressure by preventing calcium from entering the cells of your blood vessels and heart. Calcium causes your heart and arteries to contract strongly, increasing the resistance to blood flow.

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Calcium channel blockers block calcium entry, relaxing the blood vessels and thus lowering resistance to blood flow and blood pressure. Amlodipine thus increases oxygen and blood supply to the heart.

Various studies have shown that taking calcium channel blockers such as Amlodipine may reduce angina symptoms and the need for surgery. Besides, by lowering blood pressure, it offers preventive action on blood vessel walls.

But Amlodipine is usually indicated only when other medicines such as beta-blockers are not tolerated or fail to manage angina symptoms. It causes relaxation of blood vessels, improves oxygenation of heart muscles, reducing symptoms of angina.

Use and Dosage

Take medicine as suggested by your doctor.

Read the patient information leaflet before taking this medicine. Generally, you can follow the mentioned instructions:

  • Take medicine exactly as suggested by your doctor
  • Swallow the whole tablet without breaking it with a glass of water
  • You can also dissolve this tablet in a glass of water if that is easier for you to take. But you must take all the water at once if you are doing so.
  • You should take medicine at the same time every day without fail
  • You can take this tablet with or without food
  • Grapefruit increases the concentration of Amlodipine and thus increases the risk of side effects. So, avoid eating or drinking grapefruit when taking this medicine.
  • Do not stop the medication unless advised by your doctor. Hypertension is a silent disorder, which does not have any symptoms. You should thus take this medicine even if you feel well.
  • If you forget the dose, take it as soon as you remember it the same day and carry on as usual from the next day
  • If you completely forget the dose for the whole day, skip it and carry on, as usual, the next day
  • Do not take double the dose to compensate for the missed dose

Other Precautions to Keep In Mind

As with every medication, Amlodipine may also have some side effects in specific individuals.

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Very Common

  • Edema or fluid retention

Consult your doctor if it persists for more than a week.

Common

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Sleepiness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Double or altered vision
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Ankle swelling
  • Muscle cramps

However, if you get the following side effects, you should visit your doctor immediately:

  • Swelling of face, eyes, or lips
  • Sudden chest pain, breathing difficulty, or wheeziness
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Severe skin allergy including hives, skin rash, intense itching, and peeling of the skin
  • Abnormal heartbeats
  • Severe back and abdominal pain that may suggest inflammation of the pancreas

You should avoid this medication if you have the following conditions or are on certain medications unless suggested by your doctor.

You should not take Amlodipine if you have the following conditions:

  • Low blood pressure 
  • Allergy to Amlodipine or any of its ingredients
  • Aortic heart valve narrowing 
  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Heart failure

You should also avoid taking Amlodipine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding 

Inform your doctor before taking Amlodipine if you have either of the following conditions:

  • Recent heart attack
  • Sudden increase in blood pressure
  • Liver disorders
  • Heart failure

It is also a good idea to consult your doctor about eating grapefruit or drinking its juice while on Amlodipine. Besides, alcohol also interferes with the working of this medicine and should be avoided as it may increase the risk of side effects.

Also, talk to your doctor before taking any new drugs, herbs, or supplements, as it is possible that they may interact with Amlodipine.

Your doctor may advise regular monitoring of blood pressure and pulse. Contact your doctor immediately if your pulse is slower than what it is supposed to be.

Lifestyle Changes

Treatment for CAD works best when combined with a healthy lifestyle.

Some lifestyle modifications include:

  • Manage your blood pressure
  • Stop smoking
  • Check cholesterol levels regularly
  • Manage blood sugar levels
  • Limit or avoid alcohol
  • Be active
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat heart-healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  • Manage stress through yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques
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