Hypertension or high blood pressure is a condition where the blood pressure increases to a level that may be harmful to your body. A blood pressure reading indicates how much blood passes through the blood vessels and the resistance it faces when your heart beats. So, the narrower your blood vessels are, the higher the resistance, resulting in hypertension. 

If left unattended, hypertension may cause complications such as heart diseases and stroke. It is a silent condition, and you may not come to know unless you go for a regular check-up or develop complications. Early detection is thus essential.

Treatment of hypertension involves a healthy lifestyle along with medications. Amlodipine is one such commonly used medicine. It can also help treat angina and some other heart disorders.

This article details more about Amlodipine, how it helps in the management of hypertension, its recommended dose, and precautions to follow while on the medicine.

What Is Considered As High Blood Pressure?

Before we learn about Amlodipine, let us first understand a tad about hypertension. 

You may have noticed that blood pressure involves two numbers, systolic (the upper reading) and diastolic (the lower reading).

The normal range for blood pressure is 120 /80 mm Hg. Your doctor will diagnose hypertension if your upper level is ≥130 mmHg and/or lower reading is ≥80 mmHg.

According to Hypertension Canada, medications are used to manage high blood pressure used in the following cases:

  • The upper level of ≥160 mmHg and/or lower level of ≥100 mmHg in individuals without risk factors (mentioned below) for vital organ damage or cardiovascular disorders.
  • The upper level of ≥140 mmHg and/or lower level of ≥90 mmHg in individuals with risk factors for vital organ damage or cardiovascular disorders.

Risk factors for hypertension associated conditions include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Long-term kidney disorders
  • History of heart attack
  • Family history of heart disorders
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Higher-than-normal body weight

So, based on the factors mentioned above, your doctor might decide to put you on medications.

What Causes High BP (Blood Pressure)?

There are two main types of hypertension

  • Primary or essential hypertension: For this type of high blood pressure, there is no identifiable cause and develops gradually over many years.
  • Secondary hypertension: An underlying health condition is a cause for this type of high blood pressure. It tends to occur suddenly and likely to cause higher blood pressure than essential hypertension.
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Hypertension Causes

As mentioned before, essential hypertension occurs without a cause. Certain disorders that can cause secondary hypertension are:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Kidney disorders
  • Congenital heart disorders
  • Endocrine tumors
  • Adrenal gland disorders
  • Alcohol chronic use or abuse
  • Medications

How Does Amlodipine Treat High Blood Pressure?

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.

Calcium channel blockers block calcium entry, relaxing the blood vessels and thus lowering resistance to blood flow and blood pressure.

All in all, Amlodipine relaxes blood vessels so blood can flow easily. 

By lowering blood pressure, Amlodipine also helps prevent:

  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Kidney problems

It may also enhance your ability to exercise and lower the frequency of angina attacks. However, it cannot treat angina when they occur. So, use the drugs advised by your doctor, such as sublingual nitroglycerin, or seek medical help immediately.

Use and Dosage

Use

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
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Dose

Amlodipine is available as 5mg and 10mg tablets. The usual dose is 5mg once a day.

If you do not respond to the starting dose the way you should, your doctor may increase the dose to 10mg.

Your doctor will monitor your blood pressure regularly to find the correct dose for long-term use. They will also ask if you have any side effects of the medicines (mentioned in the next section)

The dose for children may be different.

Other Precautions or Lifestyle Changes While Taking Medication

It is also a good idea to know about the side effects and precautions to be followed while taking Amlodipine.

Side Effects of This Medicine

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

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

Uncommon

  • Trembling
  • Fainting
  • Abnormal taste
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of pain sensation
  • Tingling sensation or numbness in your limbs
  • Low blood pressure
  • Ringing in ears
  • Running nose and sneezing
  • Cough
  • Dryness of mouth
  • Itchy skin, skin discoloration, and red patches
  • Hair loss
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Change in frequency of urine and an increased urge to urinate
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Breast enlargement in men
  • Difficulty in getting an erection

Rare

  • Confusion

Very Rare

  • High blood sugar levels
  • Bloating of the abdomen
  • Swelling of the gums
  • Decrease in blood platelets and white blood cells
  • Nerve disorder causing numbness or tingling and muscular weakness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Skin rash
  • Liver disorders such as hepatitis, jaundice, and abnormal liver function tests
  • Muscle disorder such as tremor, rigidity, and movement disorders
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Visit the doctor if you get any side effects, and it holds even for those side-effects mentioned here.

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

Precautions

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

Medications that may interfere with the functioning of Amlodipine are:

  • Itraconazole
  • Ketoconazole
  • Indinavir
  • Ritonavir
  • Erythromycin
  • Rifampicin
  • Clarithromycin
  • Diltiazem
  • Verapamil
  • Temsirolimus
  • Tacrolimus
  • Everolimus
  • Dantrolene
  • Cyclosporine
  • Simvastatin

Lifestyle Changes

Medicines, including Amlodipine, work more effectively when taken along with lifestyle modifications.

Some beneficial lifestyle changes include:

  • Consume a healthy diet comprising of lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  • Maintaining normal weight
  • Be physically active
  • Get enough sleep
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid excess consumption of alcohol
  • Indulge in stress lowering techniques, including yoga, deep breathing, and meditation

Final Thoughts

Hypertension is a long-standing and silent condition that may result in complications such as a stroke if left unattended.

Amlodipine is a commonly used oral medicine to manage hypertension, angina, and some heart disorders. It is generally safe; however, it may cause side effects in some people.

Your doctor will start with a smaller dose and monitor you closely, especially if you are pregnant, above 60 years, or have liver disorders.

If you notice any side effects of the medicine or have concerns, you can talk to your doctor about the same.

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