Amlodipine is a calcium channel blocker used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). If you have high blood pressure, taking amlodipine can help to prevent future heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
It is also used to prevent chest pain caused by heart disease (angina).
Amlodipine helps high blood pressure by relaxing and widening blood vessels. This lowers your blood pressure and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood around your body.
With angina, you usually get chest pain because the arteries going to the heart have become hardened and narrowed. Amlodipine helps by improving the blood and oxygen supply to your heart.
This medicine is only available on prescription. It comes as tablets or as a liquid you swallow.
Who can take amlodipine
Most adults and children aged 6 and over can take amlodipine.
Amlodipine is not suitable for everyone. To make sure it's safe for you, tell your doctor if you:
- have ever had an allergic reaction to amlodipine or any other medicine
- have liver or kidney disease
- have heart failure or you have recently had a heart attack
Dosage and strength
Amlodipine comes as 5mg and 10mg tablets. The liquid comes as 2 different strengths, one with 5mg amlodipine in 5ml and one with 10mg in 5ml.
The usual starting dose of amlodipine is 5mg once a day.
If the starting dose is not working well enough (for example, your blood pressure does not get any lower, or your angina is not controlled), your dose may need to be increased to 10mg.
To decide the correct dose for you in the longer term, your doctor will check your blood pressure to make sure it's not too high or too low. They'll also ask about any side effects you might be getting from the medicine.
Doses may be lower for children.
How to take it
You'll usually take amlodipine once a day. You can take it at any time of day, but try to make sure it's around the same time every day.
You can take amlodipine tablets and liquid with or without food.
Swallow amlodipine tablets whole and have a drink of water with both the tablets and the liquid. If it's easier, you can dissolve (disperse) the tablets in a glass of water, but you must drink it all straight away if you do this.
Do not take amlodipine with grapefruit juice. Having large amounts of grapefruit or grapefruit juice can increase how much amlodipine is in your body and make side effects worse. If you are affected, you may have to avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while taking amlodipine.
If you're taking amlodipine as a liquid, it will come with a plastic syringe or spoon to help you measure out the right dose. If you do not have one, ask your pharmacist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not measure the right amount of medicine.
How long to take it for
Usually, treatment with amlodipine is long term, even for the rest of your life.
Talk to your doctor if you want to stop taking amlodipine. Stopping may cause your blood pressure to rise, and this may increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
If you're bothered by side effects, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine for you.
Take amlodipine even if you feel well, as you'll still be getting the benefits of the medicine.
If you forget to take a dose of amlodipine, take it as soon as you remember that day and then carry on as normal.
If you forget to take the dose for the whole day, skip the missed dose and take your dose the next day at the usual time.
Never take 2 doses at once to make up for a forgotten one.
If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
If you take too much
If you take more than your prescribed dose of amlodipine, it can make you feel dizzy and sleepy.
The amount of amlodipine that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person.
- you take more than your prescribed dose of amlodipine
If you need to go to A&E, do not drive yourself. Get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance.
Take the amlodipine packet or leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine, with you.
Common side effects
These common side effects of amlodipine happen in more than 1 in 100 people. They're usually mild and only last for a short time.
There are things you can do to help cope with them:
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if the advice on how to cope does not help and the side effects bother you or last for more than a few days.
Serious side effects after taking amlodipine are rare and happen in less than 1 in 10,000 people.
Call a doctor or contact 111 straight away if:
- you have stomach problems – severe pain in your stomach, with or without diarrhoea (whether it has blood in it or not), feeling sick and being sick (nausea and vomiting) – these can be signs of pancreatitis
- the whites of your eyes turn yellow, or your skin turns yellow although this may be less obvious on brown or black skin – this can be a sign of liver problems
- you get chest pain that does not stop after a few minutes or is new or worse if you are already have angina
Chest pain is a possible sign of a heart attack and needs to be checked out as soon as possible.
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to amlodipine.
These are not all the side effects of amlodipine For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.
Amlodipine and pregnancy
Amlodipine can be used in pregnancy. Although there is not a lot of information on its safety, it is not thought to be harmful to the baby.
If you are pregnant, or planning a pregnancy, talk to your doctor about it. They may wish to change amlodipine for a medicine that has more safety information. However, if your blood pressure levels are OK, then it may be better to continue taking amlodipine rather than switching to another medicine.
If your doctor or health visitor says your baby is healthy, it's OK to take amlodipine while you're breastfeeding, but talk to your doctor or pharmacist as they may recommend a medicine we know more about, like nifedipine.
Amlodipine passes into breast milk in small amounts and has not been known to cause side effects in breastfed babies.
If you notice that your baby is not feeding as well as usual, seems unusually sleepy, looks much paler than usual or if you have any other concerns about your baby, then talk to your health visitor, midwife, pharmacist or doctor as soon as possible.
Amlodipine and fertility
There's no evidence to suggest that taking amlodipine reduces fertility in women.
Amlodipine may affect sperm function. Speak to your doctor if you are having difficulty trying for a baby, as stopping amlodipine may be considered. Talk to your fertility specialist if you're worried.
Cautions with other medicines
When your blood pressure is low, you may feel dizzy or faint. If this keeps happening to you, tell your doctor as your dose may need to be changed.
Some medicines can affect the way amlodipine works.
Tell your doctor if you're taking any of these medicines before starting amlodipine:
- antibiotics such as clarithromycin, erythromycin or rifampicin
- calcium channel blockers like diltiazem or verapamil
- itraconazole or ketoconazole, antifungal medicines
- medicines to treat HIV or HCV (hepatitis C virus)
- anti-epilepsy medicines such as carbamazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital (phenobarbitone) or primidone
- medicines to suppress your immune system, such as ciclosporin or tacrolimus
- more than 20mg a day of the cholesterol-lowering medicine simvastatin
St John's wort, a herbal remedy taken for depression, is thought to affect the way amlodipine works. Talk to your doctor if you're thinking about taking St John's wort.
There's not enough information to say that other herbal remedies or supplements are safe to take with amlodipine. They're not tested in the same way as pharmacy and prescription medicines. They're generally not tested for the effect they have on other medicines.
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