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The most likely reason to be started on amlodipine is for blood pressure control. It causes relaxation and dilation of the blood vessels leading to lowering of blood pressure. The other reason people are started on amlodipine is for control of chest pain in people with coronary artery disease, amlodipine is thought to achieve this effect by decreasing the amount of work the heart has to do with each beat. Although most people won’t experience amlodipine side effects, it is important to be aware of them as in some cases, amlodipine side effects will require them to discontinue the medication.
The Most Common – Ankle Swelling
Swelling is the most common of amlodipine side effects, usually manifesting as swelling of the feet and ankles. If we look at clinical trial studies of amlodipine that looked at thousands of patients, the number of people experiencing swelling appears to be related to the dose taken. In those taking low dose (2.5mg) amlodipine, about 2 people in every 100 taking the drug reported leg swelling (2%). In those taking higher dose (10mg) amlodipine, about 10 people in every 100 reported leg swelling (10%). Interestingly, women are more likely to get the swelling, and most people tolerate this well and do not have to discontinue the medication.
Less Common Side Effects – Fatigue and Flushing
Less common amlodipine side effects are fatigue and flushing. In studies of amlodipine fatigue was reported in 5% of people taking the drug. Interestingly 3% of people taking a sugar pill (placebo) in the same studies reported fatigue also. Flushing is slightly less common. At the low doses such as 2.5mg, less than 1% of people report flushing, however at higher doses up to 3% of people report flushing, and this is more common in women. The number of people reporting palpitations is similar. Abdominal pain is reported even less frequently. The decision as to whether to stop the medication due to these amlodipine side effects should be determined with the prescribing doctor on a case-by-case basis.
Uncommon And Rare Side Effects
There is a long list of amlodipine side effects that occur in less than 1 in 100 people taking the medication and an even longer list that occur in less than 1 in 1000 people taking the complication. These include allergic reactions, shortness of breath, itching and cramps. Clicking on the following link will take you to the FDA prescribing information for amlodipine that contains this long list of uncommon and rare amlodipine side effects and details about other studies of the drug.
What To Do If You Think You Have A Side Effect
As can be seen on many Internet message boards, given the fact amlodipine is such a highly prescribed medication, there will always be people that have, or are concerned they have a side effect. Of course in some cases, the people will tolerate these amlodipine effects more than others. In every case of concern this should be discussed with the prescribing doctor. If the side effect is troublesome, the only way to know for sure if amlodipine is causing the symptoms is to have a trial of stopping the medication. Fortunately amlodipine side effects are not common. Also amlodipine is not generally prescribed on an emergency basis, and alternatives are often available, so if the patient decides with the help of their doctor to stop the medication and try an alternative it is not usually a critical issue.
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