Which medications in the drug class Calcium Channel Blockers are used in the treatment of Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension?

Updated: Jul 08, 2020
  • Author: Ronald J Oudiz, MD, FACP, FACC, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Calcium Channel Blockers

Calcium channel blockers are believed to act on the vascular smooth muscle, dilating the pulmonary resistance vessels and lowering the pulmonary artery pressure. Several studies report clinical and hemodynamic benefits from the use of long-term calcium channel blockade. Long-term treatment improves the quality of life and survival rate in patients who have a proven response to such therapy. In general, CCBs are used at high doses in patients with IPAH.

The use of CCBs should be limited to patients without overt evidence of right-sided heart failure. In patients with IPAH (or any other form of PAH), a cardiac index of less than 2 L/min/m2 or a right atrial pressure above 15 mm Hg is a contraindication to CCB therapy, as these agents may worsen right ventricular failure in such cases.

Nifedipine (Adalat CC, Nifedical XL, Procardia)

Nifedipine is a dihydropyridine calcium channel blocker. It is a vasodilator that dilates both systematic and pulmonary vascular beds. Higher doses of nifedipine are required for optimal vasodilation of pulmonary arteries.

Diltiazem (Cardizem, Cardizem LA, Cartia XT, Tiazac)

Diltiazem is a nondihydropyridine calcium channel blocker. During depolarization, diltiazem inhibits the influx of extracellular calcium across both the myocardial and vascular smooth muscle cell membranes. Serum calcium levels remain unchanged. The resultant decrease in intracellular calcium inhibits the contractile processes of myocardial smooth muscle cells, resulting in dilation of the coronary and systemic arteries and improved oxygen delivery to the myocardial tissue. It decreases conduction velocity in AV node and increases refractory period via blockade of calcium influx.

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