Nifedipine: uses and precautions

Nifedipine is a medicine that It is used to treat different cardiovascular problems due to the vasodilator and hypotensive effects it presents.

It is also known under the name of nifedipine, both can be used interchangeably. It belongs to the dihydropyrine family, which is a group of medicines that bind to calcium receptors, blocking them.

As a result of this interaction, although we will see it later and in more detail, the nifedipine manages to trigger a fairly potent vasodilator and hypotensive effect and useful for the treatment, fundamentally, of angina pectoris and arterial hypertension.

What is angina pectoris?

Angina pectoris, which is one of the main diseases for which nifedipine is indicated, It is a disorder that involves chest pain caused by a considerable decrease in blood flow to the heart.

That is to say, arteries that carry blood to the heart are clogged Y. Therefore, this organ does not receive enough blood. This produces a series of symptoms, including angina pectoris.

The patients who have suffered it describe angina pectoris as a kind of compression, pressure or pain in the chest, as if a weight were placed in this area of ​​the body.

On the other hand, there are different types of angina pectoris. Among the most common we can find:

  • Stable angina pectoris: Normally appears during physical exercise. During this situation, the heart needs more blood, but it is harder for the muscle to get enough blood if the arteries are clogged or narrowed.
  • Unstable angina pectoris: This pathology does not improve at rest or is relieved by standard treatments. It appears when a blood clot forms that totally or partially obstructs the arteries that carry blood to the heart, or also when it occurs in a blood vessel of the heart. It is a dangerous disease that requires immediate medical intervention.

On the other hand, There are a number of risk factors that increase the possibility of developing this type of disease and that, therefore, should be avoided, as far as possible. Among them, we find:

  • Tobacco.
  • Diabetic disease
  • Hypertension.
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Sedentary and stress.
  • Age.
  • Genetic factors.

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How does nifedipine exert its effect on the body?

Nifedipine, as we have seen, has hypotensive and vasodilatory effects. To trigger these types of effects, binds antagonistically to calcium receptors which are found in the heart and in the wall of blood vessels.

Specifically, it blocks calcium channels that depend on voltage for activation. Above all, it affects the vessels that are responsible for peripheral circulation. Thus, get relax vascular smooth muscles and triggers both peripheral and coronary arterial vasodilation.

As for peripheral vasodilation, nifedipine manages to reduce afterload resistance, which means that it facilitates the expulsion of blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

On the other hand, it also produces coronary vasodilation, so increases coronary blood flow and oxygenation of the heart. In this way, the efficacy of this medicine for the treatment of angina pectoris is justified.

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Precautions and adverse reactions of nifedipine

This medicine should be used with caution when given as monotherapy for the treatment of unstable angina pectoris. In addition, nifedipine has an antiplatelet action, so it can increase bleeding time. Caution must also be taken because the clinical picture of obstructive cardiomyopathy can worsen.

Finally, as far as precautions are concerned, there have not yet been enough studies on the secretion of this medicine by breast milk. For this reason, although it seems that only small amounts of nifedipine pass into breast milk, It is recommended to use this medication with caution in breastfeeding women.

As for adverse reactions, like all medicines marketed, nifedipine can trigger a series of adverse effects that must be taken into account when starting treatment with this drug.

Between the most common adverse reactions reported in the studies carried out, we can mention the following:

  • Dizziness, headache or peripheral edema.
  • Hypotension or heart failure.
  • Digestive disorders
  • Anxiety.


Nifedipine is a medicine indicated mainly for the treatment of angina pectoris and to treat hypertension. However, it also presents other indications.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions you have regarding this drug and always follow the recommendations of use that you indicate. The professionals are here to help you!