Pharmacologic and Therapeutic Considerations in Hypertension Therapy With Calcium Channel Blockers: Focus on Verapamil

Authors

  • Domenic A. Sica MD,

    1. From the Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology, Clinical Pharmacology and Hypertension, Division of Nephrology, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Richmond, VA;1 and the Department of Medicine, Division of Hypertension and Clinical Pharmacology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA2
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  • and 1 L. Michael Prisant MD 2

    1. From the Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology, Clinical Pharmacology and Hypertension, Division of Nephrology, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Richmond, VA;1 and the Department of Medicine, Division of Hypertension and Clinical Pharmacology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA2
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Domenic A. Sica, MD, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, Chairman, Clinical Pharmacology and Hypertension, Division of Nephrology, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, MCV Station Box 980160, Richmond, VA 23298-0160
E-mail: dsica@hsc.vcu.edu

Abstract

In the past 2 decades, calcium channel blockers have emerged as important and useful agents for treating hypertension. The safety of this drug class has been vigorously debated for some time, and it has only been in the past few years that such debate has been quieted by favorable outcomes data with these compounds. Calcium channel blockers are a heterogeneous group of compounds as alike as they are dissimilar. Calcium channel blockers can be separated into dihydropyridine and nondihydropyridine subclasses, with representatives of the latter being verapamil and diltiazem. A lengthy treatment experience exists for verapamil, a compound that has progressed from an immediate-release to a sustained-release and, more recently, a delayed/sustained-release formulation designated for administration at bedtime. This latter formulation synchronizes drug delivery with the early morning rise in blood pressure, which is a particularly attractive feature when viewed in the context of the distinctive pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic features of verapamil.

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