Diltiazem

Brand names of diltiazem

  • Albert Diltiazem CD
  • Apo-Diltiaz
  • Alti-Diltiazem
  • Cardizem
  • Cardizem CD
  • Cardizem SR
  • Cartia XT
  • Dilacor XR
  • Diltia XT
  • Diltiazem
  • Diltiazem ER
  • Gen-Diltiazem
  • Med Diltiazem SR
  • Novo-Diltiazem
  • Nu-Diltiaz
  • Pharma-Diltiaz
  • Rhoxal-Diltiazem CD
  • Syn-Diltiazem
  • Teczem [CD]
  • Tiamate
  • Tiazac

Diltiazem is a member of the drug group known as calcium channel blockers or CCBs and is employed in the treatment of angina (heart pain), hypertension as well as irregular rhythm of the heart. Other medications belonging to this class of medications include verapamil, amlodipine, nifedipine and others. Calcium channel blockers work by obstructing the admission of calcium in the cells of the heart muscles and those surrounding the arteries. It may be noted that the transportation of calcium to the cells of heart muscles enables the contraction of the heart making it possible for the heart to propel blood to the different body parts and enables the arteries to contract. Diltiazem works to obstruct the transport of calcium, thereby lessening the power with as well as the pace at which the heart muscles contract. At the same time, this medicament also helps the muscles encircling the arteries to relax enabling the arteries to dilate (widen).

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The heart requires adequate supply of oxygen for pumping blood. The more effort the heart puts in pumping blood, the more amount of oxygen is required by it. Angina or heart/ chest pain occurs when the supply of oxygen is inadequate compared to the work that needs to be done by the heart. As diltiazem dilates the arteries, it lessens the pressure within the arteries through which the blood pumped by the heart reaches the different parts of the body. Consequently, the heart needs to undertake less work or burden and also needs less oxygen. As diltiazem lessens the heart's requirement for oxygen, it helps to alleviate as also to avoid occurrence of angina. In addition, the blood pressure is also lowered when this medication dilates the arteries. Diltiazem was approved for sale and use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1982.

Things you need to tell your physician before taking diltiazem

Before starting treatment with the calcium channel blocker drug diltiazem, you need to talk to your physician and pharmacist on whether you have allergies to this medication, any of its constituents, or any additional type of allergy. You should know that this drug may include several inactive elements that may possibly bring about allergies or additional health problems. So, in case you are unaware of the constituents of diltiazem ask your pharmacist to make a list of the same available to you.

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Diltiazem should not be given to people having specific health problems. Before you take diltiazem, notify your physician or pharmacist about your entire health problems, especially if you are suffering from specific problems related to the heart rhythm (for instance, an atrioventricular block or sick sinus syndrome, provided you have not implanted a pacemaker). Also let your physician know about your medical history before you start using taking this drug, especially regarding a heart failure, and/ or ailments related to the liver and kidneys.

Prior to using diltiazem, you ought to be aware that this medication may cause dizziness. Therefore, you are advisable not to use any machinery, drive or undertake any activity that may require attentiveness till the time you are certain regarding the impact of diltiazem on your body and also till such time when you are able to perform such tasks safely. It is also important for people taking this drug to restrict their consumption of alcoholic beverages.

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Prior to having a dental process or any other operation, you should let your dentist or physicians know that you are using this calcium channel blocker (CCB). During pregnancy, diltiazem should be used when it is extremely necessary for the patient. Before taking this drug, pregnant women should essentially talk over with their physician regarding the advantages and dangers of taking diltiazem. It has been found that diltiazem passes onto the breast milk and may possibly have unwanted consequences on the nursing newborn. Therefore, new mothers taking this medication ought to consult their physician prior to breast feeding.

Usage

The calcium channel blocker diltiazem is employed to regulate as well as alleviate angina (a chest pain related to heart ailment); to lower hypertension (high blood pressure); and also to treat cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats).

How to use diltiazem

Diltiazem is available in a number of forms, including regular tablets, extended-release (also called long-acting) tablets, and extended-release capsules, which need to be taken orally. The normal diltiazem tablet is generally taken thrice or at the most four times every day. Usually, the extended-release tablets as well as capsules are taken once or twice daily. As the prescription label instruction on each brand of diltiazem may differ, it is advisable that you ask your physician if you need to take this drug with or with no food. Like many other prescription drugs, you need to take diltiazem at similar time(s) of the day and also strictly as you have been directed. It is important that you carefully follow the instructions on the prescription label and in case you fail to understand any direction, seek help from your physician or pharmacist. Never take this drug in excess, lower doses or repeat it more frequently than what your physician has prescribed.

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You should swallow the extended release tablets as well as capsules as a whole and never crush or chew them. If you take diltiazem on a regular basis, it will help in controlling angina, but this medication will not stop the heart pain that has already started. In fact, it is likely that your physician will prescribe other medications for stopping the chest pain in such cases. It may be reiterated that diltiazem helps to regulate hypertension as well as angina (heart pain), but it does not have the ability to cure these conditions.

Generally, your physician is likely to prescribe a small dose of this drug when you start treatment and increase the dose gradually. The dosage is not likely to be increased exceeding once in a week to a fortnight provided you are using the extended-release capsule or tablet form of diltiazem. In case you are using the normal tablet, the dosage will be increased to once in every couple of days.

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In order to obtain the complete benefits of using diltiazem you need to take this medication regularly for a minimum period of two weeks. Keep taking this drug even when you start feeling better and do not discontinue it suddenly or without consulting your physician.

How diltiazem works

Diltiazem is a calcium channel blocker that impedes the transportation of calcium to the muscle cells of the heart as well as the cells of smooth muscles present in the arterial walls. This action of diltiazem helps the blood vessels to relax (making them dilated), which, in turn, brings down high blood pressure. At the same time, the action of this medicament helps to augment the flow of blood in the direction of the heart and reduces the total burden on the heart.

Side effects

Serious:
  • fatigue caused by heart failure
  • irregular or slow heartbeat
  • shortness of breath
Common:
Less common:

Possible interactions

Herbal medicines or minerals:
Certain herbal remedies and/ or minerals may interact with diltiazem and, therefore, they should never be used together. For example, ginseng may possibly raise your blood pressure, thereby, diminishing the advantages of taking the drug. Additional herbs such as saw palmetto, licorice, hawthorn, yohimbe, goldenseal, and ma huang, are also likely to result in elevated blood pressure. Then again, using St. John's work may possibly diminish the levels of calcium channel blockers, as it enhances P-glycoprotein in the stomach. In addition, using diltiazem in conjunction with St. John's wort may also enhance photosensitivity. People suffering from high blood pressure should avoid using ma huang and Siberian ginseng.
Although Indian snakeroot possesses a German Commission E monograph indication for high blood pressure, it is important to consult your physician before you start using this herb. In fact, you need to consult your physician before you start using any herbal product or mineral supplement while you are taking diltiazem.
Foods:
Some foods may enhance the assimilation of this drug by the body causing a 30 per cent rise in its presence in the bloodstream. People using diltiazem should take care to stay away from ingesting salt in excessive amounts.
Alcohol:
Consuming alcoholic beverages or taking it in any different form is prohibited while using diltiazem, as it may augment the blood pressure lowering effects of this medicament.
Tobacco smoking:
People taking diltiazem should keep away from smoking tobacco, because nicotine diminishes the benefits offered by this drug.
Marijuana smoking:
Smoking marijuana may probably lessen the efficacy of diltiazem; results in slight to reasonable angina pain; may make the laboratory readings confusing; and possibly may also alter the electrocardiogram (ECG) readings.
Exposure to heat:
Patients taking diltiazem should take care to stay away from hot surroundings, as this may intensify the medication's ability to lower blood pressure and require additional dose of the drug. When you are in contact with a hot environment, monitor if you are experiencing debility or feeling dizzy.
Exposure to sun:
Avoid going out in the sun while you are being treated with diltiazem, as it may possibly make you susceptible to sunlight.
Heavy exercise or exertion:
Exercising along with using diltiazem may perhaps enhance one's ability to remain further active without experiencing the excruciating pain caused by angina. However, you need to exercise precaution and keep away from work-outs that may possibly be rigorous and still not cause any warning pain.

Discontinuation

It is not advisable to discontinue taking diltiazem all of a sudden. Before you stop taking this CCB drug, you should discuss with your physician on the subject of slowly decreasing the dosage of diltiazem.

Storage instructions

Always keep diltiazem at normal room temperature varying from 20°C to 25°C and a dark as well as dry place. Never keep this medication in your bathroom. You should ensure that you store all medications in a place beyond children as well as pets' reach. It is important to note that diltiazem is available under different brand names and each of them may possibly require being stored at different temperature ranges. Therefore, you should ask about the storage details regarding the brand you use. Never discard medications that are not required any more or have become outdated by flushing them down your toilet or pouring them into any drain. All such products need to be disposed of safely and in the appropriate manner. It is advisable that you talk to your pharmacist regarding the safe disposal of such products.

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