The role of calcium channel blockers in the treatment of essential hypertension.
Calcium channel blockers, originally developed for the treatment of angina and supraventricular arrhythmias, have been shown to lower elevated blood pressure effectively in hypertensive patients. Verapamil, nifedipine, and diltiazem represent prototype compounds for unique chemical classes with differing pharmacologic properties. These drugs lower elevated blood pressure with efficacy comparable with other commonly used antihypertensives. Combination therapy with other agents usually results in an additive response. Side effects are usually mild and reversible and usually are an extension of the drug's pharmacologic effects. Moreover, adverse metabolic effects on lipid, glucose, or potassium levels are not common. Because of the excellent antihypertensive effects of calcium channel blockers and their potential importance in a variety of other disease states, these agents should be routinely considered for use as a first-line antihypertensive agent in appropriately selected patients with hypertension of any severity as part of a comprehensive plan to minimize cardiovascular risk.
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