Nifedipine is a drug that is used to treat a number of health conditions, including high blood pressure, angina (chest pain) and irregular heart rhythms and belongs to the category of drugs known as calcium channel blockers (CCBs). Similar to other drugs in this category, nifedipine also acts to block the transportation of calcium into the muscle cells that surround the arteries carrying blood to the heart (known as coronary arteries) and also the other arteries in the body. As the entry of calcium is responsible for the contraction of the muscle cells, by blocking the inflow of calcium, nifedipine helps to unwind the muscles and, at the same time, widen the arteries. This action of nifedipine augments the blood circulation to the heart, thereby preventing as well as treating angina, which takes place when the blood flow to the heart is insufficient.
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It may be noted that when the blood circulation to the heart is inadequate there is also a shortage of oxygen, which is needed for pumping the blood and supplying it to the various body parts. In addition, by unwinding the muscles encircling the other arteries of the body, nifedipine assists in lowering high blood pressure (hypertension) and, in so doing, lessens the force against which the heart needs to pump blood. This action also lowers the demand for oxygen by the heart - this is one more means by which the calcium channel blockers (CCBs) help to prevent the occurrence of angina as well as treat the condition. Moreover, nifedipine also inhibits the transmission of the electrical current that passes through the heart causing the heart muscles to constrict. This outcome may also be employed to rectify the unusually fast heart beats.
Prior to starting treatment with nifedipine, it is important to tell your physician or pharmacist if you have allergic reactions to this drug, any of its elements or any other medication. If you are not sure, ask your pharmacist to provide you with a list of the ingredients of nifedipine. In addition, tell your physician regarding all the prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal products, dietary supplements as well as vitamins that are already being taken by your or you are intending to take.
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Before taking nifedipine, you need to tell your physician if you are enduring or have ever endured a constriction or obstruction of the digestive system or any other health condition that results in the food to pass through your digestive system very sluggishly; and/ or any ailment related to the heart, kidneys or the liver. In addition, inform your physician if you have suffered a myocardial infarction (MI) during the past two weeks.
Women who intend to take nifedipine should essentially tell their physician if they are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or are breast-feeding. In case a woman becomes pregnant while undergoing treatment with nifedipine, she should immediately contact her physician for advice on what she should do next.
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It is essential for people, who are around 65 year old or above, to consult their physician regarding the safe use of nifedipine capsules. Generally, elderly people ought not to take nifedipine capsules, as they are not safe in comparison to other medicines that may be used to cure the same health condition.
In case you need to undergo any surgery, counting dental operations, you must inform your surgeon or dentist that you are taking nifedipine. Also consult your physician regarding the safe use of alcoholic drinks while you are undergoing treatment with nifedipine. It is worth mentioning here that consumption of alcoholic beverages while taking nifedipine may possibly worsen the side effects of this drug.
Nifedipine is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) as well as to prevent the bouts of angina pectoris (chest pain accompanied with coronary heart disease).
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Nifedipine is available in capsule as well as extended release or long-acting tablet forms and is taken orally. Normally, the capsule is taken thrice or four times daily, while the extended-release tablet ought to be taken only once every day on an empty stomach an hour prior to or two hours following a meal. It is important that you should take nifedipine approximately at the same time every day, as this helps to maintain a standard level of the drug in the bloodstream. It is important to carefully follow the guidelines mentioned on your prescription label and also ask your physician or pharmacist in case you are unable to understand anything mentioned on the prescription label or have any questions regarding the use of the drug. You should strictly take nifedipine as directed by your physician. Here is a word of caution: never take this drug in lesser or excess dosage or for a prolonged period than what has been recommended by your physician.
The extended-release tablets should never be broken, crushed or chewed, but swallowed with a glass of water as a whole. It is very likely that your physician will begin treatment with a low dose of nifedipine and increase the dosage gradually, usually once in a week to a fortnight.
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It is important to note that while nifedipine is effective in controlling hypertension (high blood pressure) and angina (chest pain), it does not cure these conditions. It is important to keep on taking this drug even if you begin to feel better. Never stop taking nifedipine without consulting your physician. Prior to discontinuing with this drug, your physician is like to advise you to lower the dosage of nifedipine step by step.
As nifedipine belongs to the class of drugs called calcium channel blockers (CCBs), it works by obstructing the transportation of calcium to the cells of the heart muscle as well as the cells of the smooth muscle lining the walls of the arteries. The action of nifedipine helps to unwind and dilate the blood vessels, which, in turn, brings down the blood pressure, augments the flow of blood to the heart and also lowers the general burden of the heart in pumping blood to all parts of the body.
You should never stop taking nifedipine all of a sudden, but talk to your physician about gradually decreasing the dosage of this drug before discontinuing it totally. When you stop taking nifedipine, you need to carefully watch for any possible development of recurrent angina.
Nifedipine should be stored in the container the medicine came in. Seal the lid of the container tightly and keep it in a place that is beyond the reach of children and pets. This medication should always be stored at room temperature and at a place that is away from moisture, heat and light. Never keep nifedipine in your bathroom, which is generally a damp place. Dispose of all the medications that are needed no longer or have become outdated. Unless instructed otherwise, do not discard the medications by flushing them down the toilet or pouring them into a drain. Consult your physician or a neighbourhood waste disposal company regarding the safe and proper way to dispose of the medications.