Nifedipine : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More
Why is this medication prescribed?
Nifedipine is used to treat high blood pressure and control angina (chest pain). Nifedipine is in a class of medications called calcium channel blockers. It lowers blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels so the heart doesn’t have to pump as hard. Controls chest pain by increasing the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart.
High blood pressure is a common condition and, when left untreated, it can cause damage to the brain, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of the body. Damage to these organs can cause heart disease, a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, loss of vision, and other problems. In addition to taking medications, making lifestyle changes will also help control your blood pressure. These changes include eating a diet low in fat and salt, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising for at least 30 minutes most days, not smoking, and consuming alcohol in moderation.
How should this medicine be used?
Nifedipine comes as capsules and an extended-release (long-acting) tablet to take by mouth. The capsule is generally taken three to four times a day. The extended-release tablet should be taken once a day on an empty stomach, 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. To remind you to take nifedipine, take it at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Take nifedipine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Swallow the extended-release tablets whole; do not split, chew, or crush them.
Your doctor will likely prescribe a low dose of nifedipine and increase it gradually, usually once every 7 to 14 days.
If taken regularly, nifedipine controls chest pain, but does not stop it once it starts. Your doctor may prescribe a different medicine for you to take when you have chest pain.
Nifedipine controls high blood pressure and chest pain (angina), but it does not cure them. Keep taking nifedipine even if you feel fine. Do not stop taking nifedipine without consulting your doctor. Your doctor will likely reduce your dose gradually.
Other uses for this medicine
Nifedipine is also sometimes used to treat preterm labor and Raynaud’s syndrome. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.
This medicine is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking nifedipine,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to nifedipine, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in nifedipine. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: acarbose (Precose); anticoagulants (‘blood thinners’) such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven); antifungals such as fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Onmel, Sporanox), and ketoconazole (Nizoral); beta blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin), labetalol (Trandate), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL, in Dutoprol), nadolol (Corgard, in Corzide), propranolol (Inderal, Innopran, in Inderide), and timolol); carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Epitol, Tegretol); cimetidine (Tagamet); digoxin (Lanoxin); diltiazem (Cardizem); doxazosin (Cardura); erythromycin (E.E.S., E-Mycin, Erythrocin); fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora); flecainide (Tambocor); HIV protease inhibitors, including amprenavir (Agenerase), atazanavir (Reyataz), delavirdine (Rescriptor), fosamprenavir (Lexiva), indinavir (Crixivan), nelfinavir (Viracept), and ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra); metformin (Glucophage); nefazodone; phenobarbital; phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek); quinidine (in Nuedexta); quinupristin and dalfopristin (Synercid); rifampicin (Rifadin, in Rifamate, in Rifater, Rimactane); rifapentine (Priftin); tacrolimus (Astagraf SL, Prograf); valproic acid (Depakene); and verapamil (Calan, Covera, Verelan, in Tarka). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- Tell your doctor what herbal products you are taking, especially St. John’s wort.
- Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had a narrowing or blockage of your digestive system or any other condition that causes food to move through your digestive system more slowly; or heart, liver, or kidney disease. Also tell your doctor if you have had a myocardial infarction (MI) in the past 2 weeks.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking nifedipine, call your doctor.
- Talk to your doctor about the safe use of nifedipine capsules if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should generally not take nifedipine capsules because they are not as safe as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition.
- If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking nifedipine.
- Ask your doctor about the safe use of alcoholic beverages while taking nifedipine. Alcohol can make the side effects of nifedipine worse.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Do not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit 3 days before and while you are taking nifedipine.
If your doctor prescribes a low-salt or low-sodium diet, follow these instructions carefully.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you forgot.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Nifedipine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- fast heartbeat
- muscle cramps
- decreased sexual ability
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
- swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, hands, arms, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- increase in frequency or severity of chest pain (angina)
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit a report online to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store at room temperature, away from light and excess heat and humidity (not in the bathroom).
It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, since many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not child-resistant and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure they cannot be consumed by pets, children, and others. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA Safe Drug Disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or cannot wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
- fast heartbeat
- swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- blurred vision
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your blood pressure should be checked regularly to determine your response to nifedipine.
If you are taking certain extended-release tablets (Afeditab CR, Procardia XL), you may notice something that looks like a tablet in your stool. This is just the empty tablet shell, and this does not mean that you have not received your full dose of medicine.
Do not let anyone else take your medicine. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important that you keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should take this list with you every time you visit a doctor or if you go into hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.
- Adalat® CC
- Afeditab® CR
- Nifedical® XL
- Nifeditab® CR
- Procardia® XL
Disclaimer: We have made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.