Nifedipine

  • There are a number of different brands of nifedipine available. Not all brands have the same effect, so make sure each time you receive a supply that it is for the same brand as you have had before. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
  • Swallow nifedipine with a drink of water. Do not bite, chew or break the tablets/capsules.
  • Do not drink grapefruit juice while you are on nifedipine.
Type of medicine Calcium-channel blocker
Used for Hypertension
Angina
Raynaud's phenomenon
Also called Adalat®; Adalat® LA; Adalat® Retard
Adanif® XL
Adipine® MR; Adipine® XL
Calchan® MR
Coracten® SR; Coracten® XL
Fortipine® LA
Neozipine® XL
Nifedipress® MR
Nifopress® Retard
Nimodrel® XL
Tensipine® MR
Valni® XL
Available as Capsules, modified-release tablets and modified-release capsules

Nifedipine is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and prevent angina (chest pain). Nifedipine can also be used to treat Raynaud's phenomenon which is a condition caused by poor circulation to the hands and feet.

Nifedipine works by relaxing blood vessels which allows blood to circulate more freely around your body. This lowers blood pressure and increases the flow of blood to the extremities. It also improves the efficiency of the heart and helps prevent chest pain associated with angina.

Nifedipine is also available in combination with atenolol. There is a separate leaflet for this combination product called "Atenolol with nifedipine".

Before taking nifedipine make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have liver problems.
  • If you have diabetes.
  • If you have porphyria (a rare blood disorder).
  • If you have had a heart attack less than one month ago or have any other heart problems.
  • If you have angina and have chest pain when you are resting as well as during any exercise.
  • If you have inflammatory bowel disease or have ever had a blockage in your bowel.
  • If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or any other medicine.
  • Before starting this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack.
  • Take nifedipine exactly as your doctor has told you.
  • Nifedipine tablets and capsules should be swallowed whole with plenty of water. They must not be bitten, broken or chewed.
  • You may take your doses before or after food.
  • Do not drink grapefruit juice while you are on nifedipine. This is because a chemical in grapefruit juice increases the amount of nifedipine in your bloodstream. This makes side-effects more likely.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your progress can be monitored.
  • If you are taking a modified-release version of nifedipine you will be given the same brand of nifedipine each time you get a new prescription. This is because different formulations can have slightly different effects. If your medicine or packaging looks different to before, ask your pharmacist for advice.
  • The outer coating of some of the modified-release preparations may pass through your bowel intact and you may see it in your stools. This is nothing to be concerned about and does not stop the medicine from working.
  • If you have diabetes you may need to check your blood glucose more frequently as nifedipine may affect the levels of sugar in your blood. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking nifedipine.
  • If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
  • Suddenly stopping treatment with nifedipine may cause problems. Your doctor may want you to reduce your dose gradually if this is necessary.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common side-effects What can I do if I experience this
Palpitations, dizziness, feeling faint, flushing These may occur when you first start treatment. If they are severe or continue for more than a week or so, speak with your doctor. Do not drive or use tools or machines while you feel dizzy or faint
Gastro-intestinal upset (such as indigestion, feeling sick, constipation or diarrhoea) Stick to simple or bland foods, and drink plenty of water
Headache Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headache continues, speak with your doctor
Tiredness, swollen feet or ankles Take plenty of rest and raise your legs onto a low stool when you are sitting

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

  • Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else has taken an overdose of this medicine go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
  • This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
  • Never keep out of date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
  • If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Last Checked:
20/02/2012
Document ID:
1185 (v27)
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