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How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Nifedipine belongs to the class of medications called calcium channel blockers. It is used to treat high blood pressure and angina (chest pain brought on by exercise or stress). It works to control blood pressure and reduce the number of angina attacks by relaxing blood vessels.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
This medication is available as 5 mg and 10 mg capsules.
How should I use this medication?
For capsules (immediate release form), the recommended doses range from 5 mg to 20 mg 3 or 4 times daily.
For the extended release tablets, the recommended doses range from 20 mg to 90 mg once daily.
For the XL tablets, the recommended doses range from 20 mg to 90 mg once daily.
For the PA tablets, the recommended doses range from 10 mg to 40 mg twice daily.
The usual starting dose for treatment of high blood pressure or angina is 20 mg to 30 mg of a long-acting formula nifedipine (extended release tablets, XL tablets, or PA tablets) once daily. The maximum recommended daily dose is 90 mg.
The long-acting forms of the medication should be swallowed whole and should not be bitten or divided. Dosage should be based on individual tolerance and response, and should be started at a low dose. Higher doses (e.g., 60 mg or 90 mg) are not recommended for initial treatment. Higher doses should be used for treatment once the dose has been stabilized.
Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
This medication is available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms listed here. The forms available for the specific brand you have searched are listed under "What form(s) does this medication come in?"
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Nifedipine should not be taken by anyone who:
- is allergic to nifedipine or to any of the ingredients of the medication
- is allergic to other calcium channel blockers (e.g., amlodipine, felodipine)
- is breast-feeding
- is in the period immediately following a heart attack (applies to the immediate release form of nifedipine)
- is or may become pregnant
- has very low blood pressure
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- flushing and feeling of warmth
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Although most of these side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- bleeding, tender, or swollen gums
- breathing difficulty, coughing, or wheezing
- chest pain (may appear about 30 minutes after medication is taken)
- difficulty seeing
- irregular or fast, pounding heartbeat
- painful, swollen joints
- skin rash
- swelling of the ankles, feet, or lower legs
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Diabetes: For people with diabetes, nifedipine may affect their control of blood sugar levels. Make sure you check your blood sugar regularly if you have diabetes and are taking this medication.
Fertility: This medication may affect male fertility. Talk to your doctor if this is important to you.
Grapefruit juice: Grapefruit juice can increase blood levels of nifedipine. Avoid drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit before or while you are taking nifedipine.
Heart attack: Immediate release nifedipine should not be used within one week after a heart attack.
Heart failure: People with heart failure should talk to their doctor about how this medication may affect their condition.
Liver disease: People with liver disease may experience increased effects. If you have liver disease, talk with your doctor about what signs and symptons to watch out for.
Low blood pressure: People prone to low blood pressure should monitor their blood pressure frequently while they are taking nifedipine. Blood pressure may occasionally drop more than expected when starting nifedipine. Be alert for any lightheadedness, dizziness, or a faster than normal heart rate. Move slowly when changing from a lying down to an upright position. If your blood pressure drops too low, your doctor will adjust your dose or try another medication.
Stomach disorders: People with certain stomach disorders (e.g., narrowing of the gastrointestinal tract) should talk with their doctor about the risks and benefits of taking this medication.
Surgery: If you are scheduled for surgery, inform your doctor that you are taking this medication.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be taken by women who are or may become pregnant.
Breast-feeding: This medication should not be taken by women who are breast-feeding.
Seniors: Seniors may be more sensitive to the side effects of nifedipine.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between nifedipine and any of the following:
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.
All material © 1996-2013 MediResource Inc. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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