What Is Cinacalcet?

Christina Whyte
Christina Whyte
Cinacalcet may be prescribed for a dialysis patient who's experiencing secondary hyperparathyroidism.
Cinacalcet may be prescribed for a dialysis patient who's experiencing secondary hyperparathyroidism.

Cinacalcet is an oral tablet medication used to decrease the amount of parathyroid hormone and calcium in the bloodstream. Excess amounts of this hormone or calcium can be caused by a few different conditions. Many patients do not experience any side effects or only have minor symptoms, but this medication can cause serious side effects in some patients and interact negatively with a number of medications.

There are a couple of different conditions for which cinacalcet may be prescribed. Secondary hyperparathyroidism is one of these conditions, in which the bodies of chronic kidney disease patients produce too much parathyroid hormone while the patients are being treated with dialysis. Excess parathyroid hormone leads to excess calcium in the blood that can damage a patient's bones, heart, lungs, or blood vessels. Patients with parathyroid cancer may also need this medication because parathyroid cancer can cause excess calcium in the blood.

People who are taking cinacalcet should ensure that this medication is taken according to directions, and should not take it in larger doses or more frequently than prescribed. Tablets need to be swallowed whole, not crushed or split. Appointments to check blood calcium levels as well as other tests will be necessary to make sure the medication is working effectively and safely, and it is important that patients do not miss these appointments.

Some relatively common and minor side effects of cinacalcet include nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, and weakness. Potentially serious side effects include seizures, tingling or numbness, sudden muscle pain or tightness, fainting or feeling faint, as well as symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing. Prompt medical attention should be sought for any persistent, severe, or unusual side effects.

People who have had seizures, high blood pressure, liver disease, or heart problems should ensure that the prescribing doctor knows about this history. Women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or nursing a baby should speak to a doctor about taking this medication. It is unknown whether or not cinacalcet could harm an unborn or nursing baby.

This medication may interact with many other drugs. Patients who are taking antidepressants, anti-fungals, birth control pills, HIV medication, heart or blood pressure medication, as well as any other over the counter or prescribed medications need to make sure the prescribing doctor knows about it. This includes common medications, such as painkillers, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Combining some drugs with cinacalcet may necessitate medical monitoring in case adverse side effects occur, but other interactions can be more serious.

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    • Cinacalcet may be prescribed for a dialysis patient who's experiencing secondary hyperparathyroidism.
      By: Tyler Olson
      Cinacalcet may be prescribed for a dialysis patient who's experiencing secondary hyperparathyroidism.