Calcium channel blockers
What are calcium channel blockers?
Targeted therapies slow the progression of PH and may even reverse some of the damage to the heart and lungs. Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are a type of targeted therapy used specifically to treat people with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH).
When you are first diagnosed with PH you may be tested to see if you could benefit from treatment with CCBs. Less than one in ten people with PH benefit from taking CCBs. However some of the patients benefitting from CCBs will have improved life-expectancy and may avoid the need for the more complex targeted therapies.
The CCBs used most frequently in people with PH are:
How do calcium channel blockers work?
CCBs can help relax the muscles around blood vessels. This means they reduce blood pressure. This is why they are sometimes used in people with PH. The doses needed to treat PH are higher than would be prescribed for people with high blood pressure or angina.
Side effects of calcium channel blockers
Like all medicines, CCBs can cause some side effects. One of the most common problems caused by CCBs is water retention around the ankles. Your PH specialist team will discuss this and other less likely side effects of CCBs with you.