The calcium channel blocker Norvasc®, also known by the generic name amlopipine, is used to treat chest pain associated with hypertension and coronary artery disease, and enables some patients to tolerate exercise. Norvasc® side effects are peripheral edema, constipation, dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, and flushing. These Norvasc® side effects are seen more often when taken in high doses, and in women. Many of the Norvasc® side effects lessen or disappear after taking the drug for a short time. Use of this drug should be carefully considered if the patient has either aortic stenosis because it can cause hypotension, or liver disease because Norvasc® is metabolized in the liver and can stress the damaged liver.
Peripheral edema, or swelling of the feet and ankles, is one of most common Norvasc® side effects. It is caused by the retention of fluids in the peripheral parts of the body, a physiological response to the drug-induced decrease of pressure in the tiny, distal, artery branches of the feet. Elevating the feet, or using compression stockings, will sometimes help this side effect. If the condition worsens, or is unbearable, it may be necessary to reduce the Norvasc® dose, add an additional drug to control the swelling, or try a different calcium channel blocker.
Constipation is a common side effect of many calcium channel blockers, including Norvasc®. Calcium channel blockers relax muscles, including the ones in the colon, preventing movement through the colon and causing constipation. Increasing fiber and water intake should prevent constipation from becoming a problem while taking Norvasc®.
Dizziness and lightheadedness are worrisome Norvasc® side effects, but they both typically disappear as the body adjusts to the lower blood pressure brought about by the Norvasc®. While the body adjusts to Norvasc®, use care when getting up from a prone or sitting position. Rise gradually and, if possible, hold onto a solid object. Do not drive or operate machinery until you no longer experience dizzy spells.
Fatigue is a poorly understood Norvasc® side effect. Patients complain of feeling physically and mentally tired after starting this drug. Sometimes, taking it slow as the body adjusts to the new medication can make this side effect more bearable.
Occasionally, Norvasc® causes flushing, or reddening of the face, neck, or chest, a physiological response caused by dilation of the blood vessels. Since Norvasc® acts as a vasodilator, or dilator of blood vessels, flushing is common. This cosmetic side effect is more of an annoyance than a health concern.