What is Amlodipine?

woman taking an amlodipine pill and holding a glass of water

The Bottom Line

Amlodipine, available as amlodipine besylate, is a prescription medication used to lower blood pressure or to reduce chest pain. Common amlodipine brands include Amvaz, Katerzia, and Norvasc. Amlodipine does not cause weight gain, hair loss, or headaches. You may take it with or without food, including grapefruit juice.

doctor writing a prescription and holding a bottom of medication

What is amlodipine used for?

Amlodipine, also known as Amvaz, Katerzia, and Norvasc, is a cardiovascular medication used to lower blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure (hypertension) and to help relieve symptoms of chest pain.

What are the side effects of amlodipine?

 

Does amlodipine cause weight gain? 

Amlodipine is unlikely to cause weight gain. Less than 1% of individuals reported weight gain in controlled clinical trials.
 

Does amlodipine cause hair loss? 

Amlodipine does not cause hair loss or affect hair growth.
 

Does amlodipine cause swelling (edema) and is it dangerous?

Amlodipine may cause swelling, especially in your legs or ankles. The swelling may be troublesome, but should not be a cause of immediate concern. Talk to your doctor about your side effects to see if another medication should be prescribed for your blood pressure.
 

Does amlodipine cause constipation?

Amlodipine is unlikely to cause constipation. Less than 1% of individuals reported constipation in study trials.

What foods interact with amlodipine?

One study showed that drinking grapefruit juice once a day while taking amlodipine had a very small increase in the amount of drug absorbed, but did not affect blood pressure. You may take amlodipine with or without food, including grapefruit juice.

Can I drink alcohol while taking amlodipine?

Alcohol may increase your blood pressure if consumed in more than moderate amounts (1 daily drink for women or 2 daily drinks for men). It is recommended that people with high blood pressure limit their alcohol intake. Alcohol does not directly interfere with the actions of amlodipine.

What is amlodipine's mechanism of action?

Amlodipine is a calcium channel blocker that works by directly relaxing heart muscle and vascular smooth muscle, causing the relaxation of blood vessels. The relaxation of blood vessels lowers blood pressure. Angina is caused by a lack of oxygen to the heart. Amlodipine increases oxygen flow to heart muscle, and prevents angina, by relaxing blood vessels that supply the heart. Lowering the blood pressure creates less work for the heart and lowers the need for oxygen.

How is amlodipine different from other blood pressure medications?

Amlodipine differs from other blood pressure medications because it reduces blood pressure by directly relaxing blood vessels. Other classes of blood pressure lowering medications owe their effects to other mechanisms. For instance, lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil) provides vasodilation indirectly by preventing the formation of a protein made by the body which narrows blood vessels. Hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide) is a blood pressure lowering medication that works by increasing sodium excretion by the kidney, which causes the loss of body fluid through urination.

Is it safe to take amlodipine while pregnant?

First line drugs to treat hypertension in pregnancy include labetalol and methyldopa. The American Heart Association also recognizes that amlodipine is probably safe in pregnancy. One large study showed that amlodipine was safe to use in the first trimester.

What are the symptoms of amlodipine overdose?

The effects of an overdose on amlodipine include excessive relaxation of blood vessels with possible dangerous lowering of blood pressure and increased heart rate. Overdose may also lead to shock and acute kidney failure.

What to do if you take too much amlodipine, or if someone accidentally takes amlodipine

If you or someone you know is experiencing adverse or unexpected reaction from taking amlodipine, or may have overdosed on amlodipine, get guidance from Poison Control immediately. If the person is unconscious, having difficulty breathing, or unable to breathe, call 911 immediately. Poison control help is available online at poison.org and by phone at 1-800-222-1222. Both options are free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day.

Nickolas Osking, Pharmacy Intern
Pharmacy Student

Poisoned?

Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

  • Know your medications. Know what your medications are for, your dose, when you should take it, how you should take it, and what to do if you miss a dose.
  • Keep your medications safe. Store medications away and out of the sight of children and pets.
  • Keep your provider informed. Let your provider know if you are taking other medications, experiencing any unusual side effects from your medications, or have any allergies or chronic medical conditions.
  • Keep track of your medications. Use a pill minder or calendar to help you remember to take your prescriptions.

This Really Happened

There are reports of individuals who have attempted suicide with amlodipine, sometimes with fatal outcomes. A 27-year-old survived an ingestion of 150 mg of amlodipine. She was admitted to the hospital 6 hours later. On admission, her blood pressure was 75/49 mm Hg with a pulse of 105 beats/min. This patient received gastric lavage and intravenous fluids and was transferred to the intensive care unit. Following a 2000 mL fluid infusion, the patient's mean arterial pressure remained below 55 mm Hg. Infusions of dobutamine, insulin and glucose were administered and the patient's blood pressure eventually increased to 100/50 mm Hg. The patient was discharged seven days later following a psychiatric consultation.

References

Bulsara KG, Cassagnol M. Amlodipine. [Updated 2022 Jan 24]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519508/

Garovic VD, Dechend R, Easterling T, Karumanchi SA, McMurtry Baird S, Magee LA, Rana S, Vermunt JV, August P; American Heart Association Council on Hypertension; Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease, Kidney in Heart Disease Science Committee; Council on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology; Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease; and Stroke Council. Hypertension in Pregnancy: Diagnosis Blood Pressure Goals, and Pharmacotherapy: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Hypertension. 2022 Feb;79(2):e21-e41. doi: 10.1161/HYP.0000000000000208. Epub 2021 Dec 15.

Mito A, Murashima A, Wada Y, Miyasato-Isoda M, Kamiya CA, Waguri M, Yoshimatsu J, Yakuwa N, Watanabe O, Suzuki T, Arata N, Mikami M, Ito S. Safety of Amlodipine in Early Pregnancy. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 Aug 6;8(15):e012093.

Norvasc (amlodipine). New York (NY): Division of Pfizer, Inc.; 2011 May. Package insert. Distributed by Pfizer Labs.

T. El Houari, I. Haddiya, N. El Ouafi, Z. Bazid, " A Survival Case in a Severe Amlodipine Intoxication", Case Reports in Cardiology, vol. 2013, Article ID 842606, 2 pages, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/842606

Upreti V, Ratheesh VR, Dhull P, Handa A. Shock due to amlodipine overdose. Indian J Crit Care Med. 2013 Nov;17(6):375-7. doi: 10.4103/0972-5229.123452. PMID: 24501491; PMCID: PMC3902574.

Vincent J, Harris SI, Foulds G, Dogolo LC, Willavize S, Friedman HL. Lack of effect of grapefruit juice on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of amlodipine. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Nov;50(5):455-63.

Poisoned?

Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

  • Know your medications. Know what your medications are for, your dose, when you should take it, how you should take it, and what to do if you miss a dose.
  • Keep your medications safe. Store medications away and out of the sight of children and pets.
  • Keep your provider informed. Let your provider know if you are taking other medications, experiencing any unusual side effects from your medications, or have any allergies or chronic medical conditions.
  • Keep track of your medications. Use a pill minder or calendar to help you remember to take your prescriptions.

This Really Happened

There are reports of individuals who have attempted suicide with amlodipine, sometimes with fatal outcomes. A 27-year-old survived an ingestion of 150 mg of amlodipine. She was admitted to the hospital 6 hours later. On admission, her blood pressure was 75/49 mm Hg with a pulse of 105 beats/min. This patient received gastric lavage and intravenous fluids and was transferred to the intensive care unit. Following a 2000 mL fluid infusion, the patient's mean arterial pressure remained below 55 mm Hg. Infusions of dobutamine, insulin and glucose were administered and the patient's blood pressure eventually increased to 100/50 mm Hg. The patient was discharged seven days later following a psychiatric consultation.