Amlodipine

  1. About amlodipine

    Amlodipine is a medicine used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension).  If you have high blood pressure, taking amlodipine helps to prevent future heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

    Amlodipine is also used to prevent chest pain caused by angina.

    This medicine is only available on prescription. It comes as tablets or as a liquid to swallow.

  2. Key facts

    • Amlodipine lowers your blood pressure and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood around your body.
    • It’s usual to take amlodipine once a day. You can take it at any time of day, but try to make sure it’s around the same time each day.
    • The most common side effects include headache, flushing, feeling tired and swollen ankles. These usually improve after a few days.
    • Amlodipine can be called amlodipine besilate, amlodipine maleate or amlodipine mesilate. This is because the medicine contains another chemical to make it easier for your body to take up and use it. It doesn't matter what your amlodipine is called. They all work as well as each other.
    • Amlodipine is also called by the brand names Istin and Amlostin.
  3. Who can and can't take amlodipine

    Amlodipine can be taken by adults and children aged 6 and over.

    Amlodipine isn't suitable for some people.

    To make sure amlodipine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you:

    • have had an allergic reaction to amlodipine or any other medicines in the past
    • are trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or you are breastfeeding
    • have liver or kidney disease
    • have heart failure or you've recently had a heart attack
    • can’t digest some sugars
  4. How and when to take

    Take amlodipine exactly as your doctor has told you, and follow the directions on the label. If you're not sure, check with your doctor or pharmacist.

    It’s usual to take amlodipine once a day. You can take amlodipine at any time of day, but try to make sure it’s around the same time every day.

    How much will I take?

    Amlodopine comes as 5mg and 10mg tablets.

    Your dose of amlodipine depends on why you need the medicine.

    To decide the correct dose for you, your doctor will check your blood pressure and ask if you're getting any side effects.

    Depending on why you’re taking amlodipine, the usual starting dose is 5mg once a day.

    If the starting dose isn’t working well enough (your blood pressure does not lower enough, or your angina isn’t controlled), you may need to increase your dose to 10mg.

    Doses may be lower for children.

    How to take it

    You can take amlodipine with or without food.

    Swallow amlodipine tablets whole with a drink of water. If it’s easier, you can dissolve the tablets in a glass of water, but if you do this you must drink the solution straight away.

    Don't eat or drink lots of grapefruit or grapefruit juice while you're taking this medicine. Grapefruit can increase the concentration of amlodipine in your body and worsen side effects.

    If you’re taking amlodipine as a liquid, it will come with a plastic syringe or spoon to help you measure out the right dose. If you don’t have one, ask your pharmacist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not give the right amount of medicine. Do not mix the liquid with food or other drinks before taking it.

    Take amlodipine even if you feel well, as you will still be getting the benefits of the medicine.

    What if I forget to take it?

    If you forget to take a dose of amlodipine, take it as soon as you remember that day and then carry on as normal. If you forget to take the dose for the whole day, skip the missed dose and carry on as normal the next day. Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten one.

    What if I take too much?

    If you take too much amlodipine by accident, contact your doctor or go to your nearest hospital straight away.

    An overdose of amlodipine can cause low blood pressure and sleepiness.

    The amount of amlodipine that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person.

    If you take too much amlodipine by accident, call your doctor or go to your nearest hospital straight away.

    If you need to go to hospital, don't drive yourself - get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance. Take the box or leaflet inside the packet plus any remaining medicine with you.

  5. Side effects

    Like all medicines, amlodipine can cause side effects although not everyone gets them. Side effects often improve as your body gets used to the medicine.

    Common side effects

    These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people.

    Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or don’t go away:

    • headache
    • feeling tired or weak
    • dizziness
    • flushing
    • being aware of your heart beat
    • changes in your eyesight such as double vision
    • muscle cramps
    • swollen ankles
    • stomach problems such as feeling sick, tummy pain, diarrhoea or constipation

    Serious side effects

    Serious side effects after taking amlodipine are rare and happen in less than 1 in 10,000 people.

    Tell a doctor straight away if you get:

    • stomach problems - severe pain in your tummy, with or without bloody diarrhoea, feeling sick and being sick can be signs of pancreatitis
    • yellow skin or eyes - this is a sign of liver problems
    • chest pain that is new or worse - this side effect needs to be checked out as chest pain is a possible symptom of a heart attack 

    Serious allergic reaction

    In rare cases, it’s possible to have a serious allergic reaction to amlodipine.

    A serious allergic reaction is an emergency. Contact a doctor straight away if you think you or someone around you is having a serious allergic reaction.

    The warning signs of a serious allergic reaction are:

    • getting a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
    • wheezing
    • tightness in the chest or throat
    • having trouble breathing or talking
    • unusual hoarseness
    • swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat

    These are not all the side effects of amlodipine. For a full list see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.

    You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.

  6. How to cope with side effects

    What to do about:

    • headache - make sure you rest and drink plenty of fluids. Don’t drink too much alcohol. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a painkiller. Headaches should usually go away after the first week of taking amlodipine. Talk to your doctor if they last longer than a week or are severe.
    • feeling dizzy - if amlodipine makes you feel dizzy, stop what you’re doing and sit or lie down until you feel better.
    • swollen ankles - raise your legs while you’re sitting down
    • feeling sick - try taking your tablets with or after a meal or snack. It may also help if you don’t eat rich or spicy food.
  7. Pregnancy and breastfeeding

    Amlodipine is not normally recommended in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

    If you’re planning to get pregnant or you’re already pregnant, talk to your doctor about the benefits and possible harms of taking amlodipine. There may be other medicines that are safer for you.

    Amlodipine and breastfeeding

    Small amounts of amlodipine may get into breast milk, but it’s not known if this is harmful to the baby. Talk to your doctor as other medicines might be better while you are breastfeeding.

    Talk to your doctor if you're trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or you want to breastfeed.

  8. Cautions with other medicines

    If you take other medicines that lower blood pressure, such as ramipril and lisinopril, at the same time as amlodipine, the combination can sometimes lower your blood pressure too much. This may make you feel dizzy or faint. If this keeps happening to you, tell your doctor as your dose may need to be changed.

    Some medicines can interfere with the way amlodipine works.

    Tell your doctor if you're taking any of these medicines before starting amlodipine:

    • the antibiotics clarithromycin, erythromycin or rifampicin
    • medicines for high blood pressure including diltiazem and verapamil
    • the antifungals itraconazole or ketoconazole
    • medicines to treat HIV or HCV (hepatitis C virus)
    • the anti-epilepsy medicines, carbamazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital (phenobarbitone) or primidone
    • medicines to suppress your immune system such as ciclosporin or tacrolimus
    • more than 20mg a day of the cholesterol-lowering medicine, simvastatin

    Mixing amlodipine with herbal remedies or supplements

    St John's wort, a herbal medicine taken for depression, is thought to interfere with the way amlodipine works. Talk to your doctor if you're thinking about taking St John's wort.

    Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies and supplements.

  9. Common questions

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