Amlodipine: 9 Common Myths About the Classic Blood Pressure Drug

Amlodipine often gets a bad rap, but as you’ll see, the best meds can be those that have been used for decades. I’m here to bust nine common myths of this useful medication.

1) Amlodipine is bad for your heart.

Amlodipine is not bad for your heart, and even for folks with heart failure, amlodipine is a reasonable option to lower your blood pressure.

2) Amlodipine isn’t as good as newer blood pressure medications.

Nope. Amlodipine belongs to a class of medications known as dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers, and along with thiazide diuretics (chlorthalidone, hydrochlorothiazide), it should be used as a first-line therapy to lower blood pressure. In fact, compared to other blood pressure drugs, amlodipine is associated with better blood pressure control in the African-American population and widely accepted as the best choice.

3) Amlodipine isn’t good if I have diabetes.

This has been well studied and is simply not true. In a study done on hypertensive patients with type 2 diabetes, amlodipine (and thiazide diuretics) was more effective than any other antihypertensive drug class. Amlodipine is, in fact, fine to use if you have diabetes.

4) Amlodipine is bad for my kidneys.

Amlodipine is largely broken down in the liver (not the kidneys) and used by folks with kidney disease who do not need to adjust the dosage. So, no, amlodipine is not bad for your kidneys.

5) Amlodipine increases my cancer risk.  

Amlodipine made news a while back when a small study on breast cancer found a relationship between breast cancer and those who took amlodipine for more than 10 years. However, several larger studies have found that amlodipine does not increase your risk for cancer, regardless of how long you’ve been taking it.

6) I can’t get amlodipine combination medications.

Yes, you can get amlodipine combination medications. Amlodipine comes in several different combination medications, including amlodipine/benazepril (Lotrel) and amlodipine/valsartan (Exforge), as common examples.

7) Amlodipine lowers my heart rate.

Unlike beta-blockers and other types of calcium channel blockers—non-dihydropyridine ones like diltiazem and verapamil—amlodipine has little or no effect on your heart rate.

8) I can’t take amlodipine with my cholesterol medication.

This is not true. In fact, amlodipine comes with a statin in the combination medication, amlodipine/atorvastatin (Caduet). Amlodipine/atorvastatin is available as a generic, and taken once daily, it reduces blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. This works just as well as taking the two medicines separately. Also, people taking the combination pill tend to stick to their treatment longer compared to those taking two separate pills.

9) If I only take amlodipine once a day, does it wear off at night?

No. Amlodipine gives true 24-hour blood pressure coverage and is meant to be taken only once daily.  

Hope this helps.

Dr O.

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