Amlodipine or Norvasc is a calcium blocker that treats high blood pressure. This inexpensive, generically available drug relaxes smooth muscle cells lining arteries and reduces the force against which the heart must pump. Additionally the drug helps protect against chest pain or angina. It ranks among the World Health Organization List of Essential Medicines.
An estimated 14 million people take this drug either by itself or combined with other antihypertensive therapy. The most consistent benefit of treating high blood pressure involves lowering the risk of stroke adn to a lesser extent heart disease. Obviously Amlodipine only treats rather than cures elevated blood pressure.
Those at greatest risk receive the most benefit. This translates to a greater reduction in risk among those with also have diabetes and elevated cholesterol.
Traditionally diuretics were the first choice of therapy for high blood pressure followed by an ACE inhibitor (lisinopril) or a calcium blocker. At present guidelines blur the distinction to some degree.
Side effects tend to be relatively mild and tolerable. They include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, facial flushing and occasionally palpitations. Some swelling of the legs may occur. The elderly must protect against dehydration especially during the hot summer months. Individuals with unstable chest pain or angina may be at increased risk for heart related problems with this drug.
As opposed to many of the highly promoted drug therapies for hypertension, Amlodipine is off patent and available as generic norvasc. A month worth of norvasc generally costs less than $10 with a free coupon available from goodrx.com.
Too many people believe simply following a drug regimen conquers high blood pressure. But they are incorrect. People generally pay too little attention to a proper diet, salt restriction, exercise and perhaps stress reduction. As a result most hypertensives wind up with prescriptions for two or three different drugs. Simply adhering to a healthy lifestyle allows much easier blood pressure control or may eliminate the problem entirely.