Calcium-channel blockers inhibit the inward ?ow of calcium through the specialised slow channels of cardiac and arterial smooth-muscle cells. By thus relaxing the smooth muscle, they have important applications in the treatment of HYPERTENSION and ANGINA PECTORIS. Various types of calcium-channel blockers are available in the United Kingdom; these di?er in their sites of action, leading to notable di?erences in their therapeutic e?ects. All the drugs are rapidly and completely absorbed, but extensive ?rst-pass metabolism in the liver reduces bioavailability to around one-?fth. Their hypotensive e?ect is additive with that of beta blockers (see BETA-ADRENOCEPTOR-BLOCKING DRUGS); the two should, therefore, be used together with great caution – if at all. Calcium-channel blockers are particularly useful when beta blockers are contraindicated, for example in asthmatics. However, they should be prescribed for hypertension only when THIAZIDES and beta blockers have failed, are contraindicated or not tolerated.
Verapamil, the longest-available, is used to treat angina and hypertension. It is the only calcium-channel blocker e?ective against cardiac ARRHYTHMIA and it is the drug of choice in terminating supraventricular tachycardia. It may precipitate heart failure, and cause HYPOTENSION at high doses. Nifedipine and diltiazem act more on the vessels and less on the myocardium than verapamil; they have no antiarrhythmic activity. They are used in the prophylaxis and treatment of angina, and in hypertension. Nicardipine and similar drugs act mainly on the vessels, but are valuable in the treatment of hypertension and angina. Important di?erences exist between di?erent calcium-channel blockers so their use must be carefully assessed. They should not be stopped suddenty, as this may precipitate angina. (See also HEART, DISEASES OF.)... Medical Dictionary
A metal which, on account of its great a?nity for other substances, is not found in a pure state in nature. Its salts are widely used in medicine but, as their action depends in general not on their metallic radical but upon the acid with which it is combined, their uses vary greatly and are described elsewhere. All salts of potassium depress the heart’s action as a result of action by the potassium ion.... Medical Dictionary
A salt of the metallic element POTASSIUM. It is used as a skin antiseptic (see ANTISEPTICS) and for cleaning wounds; its astringent e?ect is useful in the treatment of DERMATITIS. It should not be taken internally because the compound is poisonous.... Medical Dictionary