Why is this medication prescribed?
Nifedipine is used to treat high blood pressure. It relaxes your blood vessels so your heart does not have to pump as hard. It also increases the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart to control chest pain (angina). If taken regularly, nifedipine controls chest pain, but it does not stop chest pain once it starts. Your doctor may give you a different medication to take when you have chest pain.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How should this medicine be used?
Nifedipine comes as a capsule and an extended-release tablet (long-acting) to take by mouth. It is usually taken one or three times a day. The extended-release tablet should be taken on an empty stomach, either 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal, and should be swallowed whole. Do not chew, divide, or crush the tablet. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take nifedipine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Nifedipine controls high blood pressure and chest pain (angina) but does not cure them. Continue to take nifedipine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking nifedipine without talking to your doctor.
Other uses for this medicine
Nifedipine also is used to treat migraine headaches, Raynaud's syndrome, congestive heart failure, and cardiomyopathy. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking nifedipine,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to nifedipine or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially cimetidine (Tagamet); fentanyl (Duragesic); heart and blood pressure medications like beta-blockers, digoxin (Lanoxin), warfarin (Coumadin), and quinidine (Quinaglute, Quinidex); phenytoin (Dilantin); ranitidine (Zantac); and vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had heart, liver, or kidney disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking nifedipine, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking nifedipine.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Nifedipine capsules may be taken with or without food, but the nifedipine extended-release tablets should be taken on an empty stomach, either 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.
Avoid drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit 1 hour before or for 2 hours after taking nifedipine.
Do not drink alcoholic beverages while taking this medication.
Talk to your doctor before using salt substitutes containing potassium. If your doctor prescribes a low-salt or low-sodium diet, follow these directions carefully.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Although side effects from nifedipine are not common, they can occur. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- upset stomach
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- excessive tiredness
- flushing (feeling of warmth)
- fast heartbeat
- muscle cramps
- enlargement of gum tissue around teeth
- nasal congestion
- decreased sexual ability
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, arms, or legs
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- increase in frequency or severity of chest pain (angina)
What storage conditions are needed for this medicine?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison controlcenter at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsedor is not breathing, call local emergency services at911.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your blood pressure should be checked regularly to determine your response to nifedipine.
Good dental hygiene decreases the chance and severity of gum swelling. Brush your teeth regularly and schedule dental cleanings every 6 months.
The extended-release tablet does not dissolve in the stomach after being swallowed. It slowly releases medicine as it passes through your small intestines. It is not unusual to see the tablet shell in the stool.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.