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Keywords:

  • Amlodipine;
  • Diltiazem;
  • Verapamil

Calcium channel blockers are becoming increasingly popular in veterinary medicine for the treatment of systemic hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Calcium is vital to many cellular functions and thus stringent regulation of intracellular calcium concentrations is required. Pharmacologic manipulation of the regulatory mechanisms has the potential to alter cellular function in all body systems. In human medicine, calcium channel blockers are being evaluated for, among other things, use in treating glaucoma, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary hypertension, in renal transplantation, and for prevention of reperfusion injury. The potentially beneficial effects of these drugs have often been overshadowed by adverse effects including hypotension, inappetence, bradycardia, conduction abnormalities, and decreased cardiac output. With the introduction of sustained- release formulations (diltiazem) and 2nd generation calcium channel blockers (amlodipine) many of these effects have been attenuated or eliminated. This paper will review the functions of calcium and the calcium channels as well as discussing the classes and current and potential uses of the various calcium channel blockers.