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What is Diltiazem?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Diltiazem is a calcium-channel blocker, a family of drugs used in the management of certain heart conditions. These drugs interfere with the movement of calcium into certain cells, leading to vasodilation and reducing the intensity of heart contractions. They can be used to manage angina pectoris, certain kinds of cardiac arrhythmia, and hypertension. This drug is available in regular and extended release formats, taken orally in the form of tablets or capsules.

When patients take this medication, their blood vessels relax, lowering blood pressure. In addition, the heart muscle does not beat as strongly as a result of the calcium blocking. This can be helpful for some conditions leading to high blood pressure and chest pain, and for controlling certain kinds of abnormal heart rhythms. The drug must be taken dependably on schedule for the best results, and patients should make sure to follow the directions with care. Doctors may also prescribe diltiazem for migraine in some cases.

Patients on this medication can experience side effects like fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and nausea. More severe diltiazem side effects can include abnormal heart rhythm and jaundice. Usually, patients start out on a low dosage, with the medication being increased over time until a target range can be reached. If severe side effects develop, the dosage can be reduced until the patient reaches a more stable point.

Use of this medication can be contraindicated in certain patients. It may react badly with other prescriptions, making it important to discuss the medications a patient is taking or has taken in the recent past before starting diltizem therapy. While on this drug, patients should also be careful about new prescriptions that might potentially interact badly with the diltiazem. The drug is also contraindicated for certain kinds of heart conditions, as it may make them worse.

Diltiazem should be stored in a cool, dry place out of reach of children and pets. Patients taking this medication may want to consider listing it on a medic alert card so that in the event of a medical emergency, care providers will know that the patient is taking this drug. Any other drugs being taken should be listed as well, and it is important to make sure the dosages discussed on the card are current. Any underlying medical conditions should also be disclosed, as this can help care providers determine the most appropriate course of treatment in an emergency when a patient may not be able to communicate effectively or participate in treatment decisions.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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