Amlodipine is taken once a day.
You can take the tablets before or after meals.
When you first start taking amlodipine you may get a headache, or feel flushed and hot. These symptoms tend to go after the first few days.
|Type of medicine||Calcium-channel blocker|
|Used for||High blood pressure; angina|
|Also called||Istin®; Amlostin®|
Combination brands include: Exforge® (amlodipine with valsartan); Sevikar® (amlodipine with olmesartan)
Amlodipine works by causing some of your blood vessels to relax and widen. This lowers your blood pressure. It also reduces the force and the rate of your heartbeat, and this helps to prevent angina chest pain. It does these things by blocking the amount of calcium that goes into the 'smooth' muscle cells in the walls of your arteries and in your heart. Calcium is needed for muscles to contract, so reducing the amount of calcium causes the muscle cells to relax.
Amlodipine is also available as a combination tablet with other medicines to reduce high blood pressure. Combination tablets help to reduce the total number of tablets you need to take each day.
Before taking amlodipine
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking amlodipine it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have problems with the way your liver works.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take amlodipine
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. It will give you more information about amlodipine and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking the tablets.
- Amlodipine is taken once a day. It is usual to be prescribed the 5 mg strength tablet to take at first, although the strength of your tablets may be increased to 10 mg after a short while.
- You can generally choose a time of day to take your tablets that you find easiest to remember, but try to take your doses at the same time of day each day. This will help you to avoid missing doses.
- Swallow the tablet with a drink of water. You can take amlodipine before or after meals.
- If you forget to take a dose at your usual time, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
- Your doctor will discuss with you the possibility of unwanted side-effects. When you first start taking amlodipine you may experience headaches, feeling flushed, and some dizziness. These effects usually only last for a few days, but if they continue or become troublesome, you should let your doctor know.
- If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice. Your doctor may recommend that you do not drink alcohol while you are on this medicine, as it may increase the chance that you experience side-effects, such as feeling dizzy or light-headed.
- Treatment with amlodipine is usually long-term unless you experience an adverse effect. Continue to take the tablets unless you are told otherwise by your doctor. If it is necessary for you to stop, your doctor may want you to reduce your dose over a few days, as stopping taking amlodipine suddenly can cause your symptoms to return.
- If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines. Some anti-inflammatory painkillers may reduce the effectiveness of amlodipine.
- If you need to have an operation or any medical treatment, always tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking. Amlodipine may interfere with the way some anaesthetics work.
- It is not advisable for you to drink large quantities of grapefruit juice. This is because a chemical in grapefruit juice may increase the amount of amlodipine in your bloodstream and this could make side-effects more likely.
Can amlodipine cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with amlodipine. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common amlodipine side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Headache, feeling flushed or hot||These may occur during the first few days but usually soon go. Speak with your doctor if they continue beyond a few days|
|Abdominal discomfort, feeling sick||Stick to simple meals - avoid rich and spicy foods|
|Swollen ankles||Raise your legs on to a low stool when you are sitting|
|Feeling dizzy or tired||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines until you feel better|
|Palpitations||If troublesome, speak with your doctor|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store amlodipine
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Amlodipine 5 mg and 10 mg Tablets; Wockhardt UK Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated August 2012.
- British National Formulary; 67th Edition (March 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Adrian Bonsall