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What is Norvasc®?

By Dorothy Bland
Updated May 17, 2024
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The brand name Norvasc® refers to the generic drug amlodipine, a popularly prescribed treatment for high blood pressure. In the United States, the brand name is sold by the Pfizer pharmaceutical company, and a number of generic versions might be available. Amlodipine is also marketed in many other countries, often under different brand names and frequently by different pharmaceutical companies.

Norvasc® belongs to a group of drugs known as calcium channel blockers. These drugs work to decrease how fast and how hard the heart pumps by widening the blood vessels. When the heart does not have to work as hard, blood pressure may lower and angina or chest pain might decrease. The drug may be used by itself or as a combination blood pressure treatment with other medications.

Physicians may use Norvasc® as a treatment for those more than six years of age. The prescription drug is available in tablet form under three different strengths, 2.5 milligrams, 5 milligrams, and 10 milligrams. The smallest dose is generally used for pediatric patients and elderly individuals, those more likely to have a negative reaction. For adults, the standard dose usually starts at 5 milligrams.

Although Norvasc® might be a good blood pressure medication for some, everyone is different, and some individuals might not be able to tolerate the drug. When patients are discussing starting a Norvasc® treatment with their doctors, they will usually be asked to discuss all medications currently being taken, any known allergies, and all health issues to determine if the calcium channel blocker will be safe to use. For instance, use of the drug may not be suitable for patients with congestive heart failure. As the effect of amlodipine on developing babies is not known, it is also not generally taken during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the potential risk.

All prescription medications can cause side effects. Whether these side effects require medical assistance, however, will depend on how severe they are. Although Norvasc® is generally tolerated well, some users may experience several fairly common symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, and water retention. These symptoms may decrease in severity or disappear once the patient has become used to the medicine. Patients who do not experience relief of these symptoms can bring up their concerns at their next doctor’s office visit. If severe symptoms are experienced, however, such as rapid weight gain or difficulty breathing, users are typically directed to immediately report this information to their doctor.

For effective management of high blood pressure, patients may have to continue taking Norvasc® for the rest of their lives. The blood pressure treatment is also likely to be incorporated into a complete lifestyle treatment. Usually such lifestyle treatments prompt patients to make changes to their diets, get recommended levels of exercise, and maintain or get down to a healthy weight.

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.

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