Amlodipine Horror Stories: A Balance Between Myths and Reality

If you are a hypertension patient, you are probably familiar with Amlodipine, and you might have heard all the scary experiences people had to go through. Amlodipine is a first-line antihypertensive drug.

Your blood pressure might come down more than before for taking amlodipine, but your body will initially show multiple adverse outcomes, and most of them are intolerable. You will feel unusually and unreasonably exhausted. You will have ankle swelling, mood swings, sweating, and whatnot! You might feel this medicine is an imposter causing more damage to your body instead of helping you recover.

Before we dig into all the causes and effects of why consumers feed others with scary amlodipine horror stories, let’s know a little more about what kind of medicine amlodipine is and how it works. This might sound unlikely, but amlodipine actually does necessary repairing in your heart and also comes with a package of unpleasant side effects.

A little heads up. Do not be petrified by seeing the enormous list of side effects of taking amlodipine.

All you need to know about Amlodipine 

Amlodipine is a long-acting calcium channel blocker drug used to manage high blood pressure (hypertension), chest pain (angina), and other associated conditions.

amlodipine horror stories

Untreated hypertension is risky, leading to conditions like stroke, kidney failure, and heart attacks, and extensively hampers the vital organs. In this case, amlodipine comes to the rescue and lowers the BP. Having a longer duration of action renders it unsuitable for emergency cases of reducing blood pressure.

Amlodipine Horror Stories: Adverse Effects

Several different unpleasant reactions to the use of amlodipine have been recorded through various surveys. These effects may be acute or may even take a few days to develop depending on the body’s condition, certainly varying from one person to the other.

Often we seek professional help and end up blaming the doctor because people think the prescribed medicines aren’t working. Still, the action of any medicine will show significant changes in the body, while some are noticeable and some are not.

Common severe side effects

Some of the possible dose-dependent side effects that might need medical attention are given on the following :

  • Peripheral edema, swelling of the ankles or feet
  • Headaches, dizziness
  • Flushing of face, an unusual feeling of warmth
  • Palpitation
  • Irregular pounding heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Labored breathing
  • Discomfort in the chest.

Mild side effects

The less common or rare side effects won’t instigate any amlodipine horror stories. The effects are:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Redness in face
  • Drowsiness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Rash
  • Malaise
  • Chills
  • Confusion, depression
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Itching or tingling sensation in the skin
  • Pale, cold, and clammy skin
  • Trembling of the hands or feet
  • Unsteadiness
  • Unusual weakness
  • Unusual bruising in the skin
  • Sudden sweating
  • Fainting
  • Swelling of hand, feet, arms
  • Swollen glands
  • Black tarry stool and dark urine
  • Gum bleeding
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Weight gain
  • Dry mouth

Allergic Reactions

Although the occurrence is pretty rare, some people might have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to amlodipine. Often there will be signs like wheezing, blistering of the skin, tightness in the chest, swollen face observed in people. This indicates the person needs spontaneous treatment and immediate medical attention. Many people included these severe symptoms in their amlodipine horror stories.

Now that was a long list, wasn’t it? These are the side effects found when clinical trials were conducted under varying conditions. For example, in low dose (2.5 mg) amlodipine, about 3 out of 100 people reported leg swelling. In higher doses (10 mg) of amlodipine, 10 in every 100 people experienced swelling of feet.

Surprisingly, there were greater incidences of prominent effects in women than men. However, the association of such adverse situations with a specific gender is unknown and yet proven.

amlodipine horror stories

There are hundreds of cases where patients had to be rushed to the emergency because they grew exhausted and had horrible reactions to amlodipine. However, investigations like ECG, blood tests, lipid profiles didn’t have many chances. Significant neurological changes are mostly what concern people, and this is exactly why people get agitated and decide to discontinue the medicine on their own.

In the hope of reprieve from all the horrible effects and with utter disappointment, patients stop taking their meds, not realizing it can cause more damage to their health. Thus their recovering health returns to how it had been before, and usually, it worsens.

Management of adverse effects

If you observe significant effects on your body while taking amlodipine, you need to get checked by your doctor right away. Since there are varied forms of outcomes, the management will also be different and symptomatic so that no amlodipine horror stories can ever occur.

Few side effects will demand emergency care, while some need hospitalization. You can experience mild to moderate changes in your body. Hence it would not be wise to ignore the signs and decide not to visit the hospital.

The following are some home remedies you can have when the condition isn’t too constrained,

  • If you have dizziness, then you need to lie down or sit until you feel better. Try sleeping to feel better. 
  • For headache, have sufficient rest and plenty of fluids, and take the painkillers your doctor prescribed
  • For swollen ankles, raise your legs while sitting down or lift them from ground level while lying supine. It usually persists for a few hours. If the swelling doesn’t come down, then make sure to visit a doctor. You can use a compression wrap on the swollen areas too.
  • If you have hot flushes, stay in a cool, well-ventilated room and turn on the air conditioner or fan. Wash your face and arms with cold water repeatedly. And of course, don’t forget to drink water!
  • In case of irregular heartbeat, don’t do any strenuous activity that raises your BP. Cut off alcohol, cigarettes, heavy, fatty meals for a few days, and keep yourself stress-free as much as possible. Try doing meditation and stretching. It helps.
  • If you have constipation, it is vital to keep yourself hydrated. Drink a lot of water and increase your daily fluid intake. Eat whole grains, vegetables, raw fruits, and other foods having plenty of dietary fibers. Over-the-counter medicines like laxatives can be effective for relieving constipation.

It is always better to consult with your physician when you have a sensitive drug with so many harmful consequences involved than opting for essential home remedies.

Myths about Amlodipine

Considering all the unlikable adverse effects, there are misconceptions regarding the use of amlodipine among consumers leading to numerous amlodipine horror stories. Like,

  • Amlodipine isn’t good for the cardiovascular system: Amlodipine is used as an antihypertensive drug. It lowers the blood pressure while its initial dosage may induce unfavorable changes in the heart like chest pain, palpitation, etc.
  • Amlodipine may increase the risk of having cancer: Initial studies found an association between breast cancer and intake of amlodipine. However, eventually, detailed studies say that there is no such connection regardless of how long a person has been taking amlodipine.
  • Amlodipine is harmful to diabetic patients:  Amlodipine is proven to be more effective than other antihypertensive drugs for users having diabetes mellitus.

How does amlodipine work?

Amlodipine has a strong affinity for cell membranes by inhibiting the passage of calcium ions through specific calcium channels. The contraction of smooth muscle and cardiac muscles is directly dependent on the movement of extracellular calcium ions into the particular channels.

Hence, by blocking these channels, this amlodipine causes four actions in the heart:

  • Vasodilation (relaxation of smooth muscles)
  • Negative chronotropy (reduced heart rate)
  • Negative inotropy ( reduced force of contraction) and 
  • Negative dromotropy (decreased velocity of conduction) ultimately leads to reducing cardiac workload and increases cardiac output response concomitantly.

Since the heart remains stable under the administration of amlodipine, both oxygen demand and the use of energy of the cardiac muscles decrease, thus controlling blood pressure.

amlodipine horror stories

Indication

Amlodipine lowers blood pressure making it easier for the heart to pump blood around the body. It has some exclusive uses, and having your doctor’s recommendation is a must!

The therapeutic uses of amlodipine are:

  • Hypertension
  • Vasospastic (Prinzmetal’s) angina
  • Chronic stable angina in adults
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Coronary artery disease

Contraindication

Amlodipine is relatively contraindicated in patients with severe hypotension, cardiogenic shock, high-grade aortic stenosis, liver impairments, heart failure, and 2nd & 3rd-degree heart block. People having hypersensitivity and allergic reactions to dihydropyridine derivatives shouldn’t also take amlodipine since it causes liver damage.

Patients with congestive heart failure should be treated with caution because they might develop the risk of future cardiovascular problems leading to amlodipine horror stories. A pregnant woman can take amlodipine specifically under her physician’s instruction only if there is no better alternative for her treatment.

Dosage

Adults and children over six years can take amlodipine. In hypertensive patients, it is taken along with beta-blockers, Thiazides, Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, etc.  It is fundamental to point out that variation in the daily dose may also show unusual reactions in your body.

The initial recommended dose for the oral form of amlodipine is 5 mg once daily, and the maximum dose is 10 mg. Elderly patients may also begin with a lower dose of 2.5 mg once daily, including other medications. Pediatric patients aged 6-16 years are allowed to take 2.5-5 mg once daily.

When a doctor instructs you to take amlodipine, you must inform what medications and supplements you’ve been taking, both pharmaceutical products or herbal remedies. Let them know if you have heart disease, liver problems, pregnancy, or trying to conceive.

FAQ

Why is amlodipine necessary despite having so many side effects?

Because it controls blood pressure and reduces the risk of some problems accompanied by hypertension, it lowers the risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, etc.

What are the alternatives for amlodipine?

Drugs similar to Amlodipine that fall under the category of calcium channel blockers are Nifedipine, Felodipine, Lercanidipine, etc. these are considered safer, not both effective and long-acting amlodipine.

Will you have side effects if you stop taking amlodipine?

Yes, you will. Suddenly stopping amlodipine can cause chest pain and worsen blood pressure.

What if you miss a dose or two?

When you forget to take a dose in time, take it immediately after remembering, then continue with the usual time. And in case you miss the dose for an entire day, DO NOT make up for the previous day. Just carry on with the next day.

What if you take too much amlodipine?

Gross overdose of amlodipine can cause peripheral vasodilatation and possible reflex tachycardia ( the condition when blood pressure decreases, the heart starts beating faster to raise blood pressure). Usually, when there is increased uptake of amlodipine, it will lead to drowsiness, lightheadedness.

Endnotes

Amlodipine is an excellent choice of drug to relieve stable angina and hypertension but sometimes it can create some amlodipine horror stories with adverse side effects. Even though it immensely impairs your body and mood with all the unpleasant effects, doctors suggest amlodipine since it gives significant protection against stroke and other life-threatening diseases that may develop later.

Taking this medicine is just a portion of a treatment plan, not the only element to control hypertension and other cardiac problems. You need to remember that a nutritious diet, weight control, exercising, management of co-morbidity like diabetes mellitus and bronchial asthma, cessation of tobacco consumption, and a healthy lifestyle is equally important to recover from such health conditions.

Maisha Zarnaz

I am Maisha, currently studying for MBBS in Armed Forces Medical College, Dhaka. The advancements in medical science enthrals me a lot, hence I like to read medical blogs and articles and help people with whatever knowledge I have been able to acquire on healthy eating, lifestyle and skin care. I love watching TV series or baking when I'm free and music has always been my passion.

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