Calcium channel antagonists. Part III: Use and comparative efficacy in hypertension and supraventricular arrhythmias. Minor indications

Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy
L H Opie


The major antihypertensive mechanism of calcium antagonists is by decreasing the systemic vascular resistance, modified by the counter-regulatory responses of the baroreflexes and the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. In severe hypertension, the concept that calcium overload of the vascular myocyte could precipitate or aggravate peripheral vasoconstriction provides a logical basis for the use of these agents as first choice therapy; nifedipine, especially, has been well tested. As monotherapy for mild to moderate hypertension each of the three first-generation agents compares well with beta-blockers. Calcium antagonists may have a special role in the therapy of certain patient groups (elderly, black) or in those subjects whose life style involves intense physical or mental exertion (hemodynamics better maintained than with beta-blockade) or in patients with early end-organ damage such as left ventricular hypertrophy or renal insufficiency. However, the goal blood pressure may not be reached during monotherapy so that drug combinations may be required. Further indications for these compounds are as follows. Verapamil and diltiazem are frequently used in supraventricular tachycardias including acute and chronic atrial fibrill...Continue Reading


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