For reasons that remain somewhat mysterious to us, amlodipine (Norvasc) is one of the most popular blood pressure medications in the pharmacy. This calcium channel blocker lowers blood pressure in part by interfering with the flow of calcium into artery walls. This helps dilate blood vessels in the heart and throughout the body.

Possible side effects associated with amlodipine include:

  • Swollen ankles
  • Fluid retention
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Palpitations
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Skin rash

A fascinating study called ALLHAT (Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial) involving over 33,000 participants revealed some curious data. An inexpensive diuretic called chlorthalidone was just as effective as pricier drugs like lisinopril (Prinivil or Zestril) or amlodipine (Norvasc) when it came to reducing complications of hypertension such as kidney or cardiovascular problems. More important, however, this diuretic was better able to prevent heart failure (Archives of Internal Medicine, May, 2009).

Heart failure is a very serious condition. Elizabeth Taylor just died from congestive heart failure and it is a difficult disease to treat. Because calcium channel blockers like amlodipine have been linked to a higher risk of heart failure (American Heart Journal, Jan, 2007), than diuretics like chlorthalidone, we think patients should be warned about this potential complication and other side effects associated with this medication.

One other word of caution. An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (Feb. 22, 2011) has reported that when calcium channel blockers like amlodipine are combined with certain antibiotics such as erythromycin (E-Mycin) or clarithromycin (Biaxin) that the result can be a precipitous drop in blood pressure. This is particularly problematic for older people as it can cause serious dizziness or shock and lead to some very dangerous cardiovascular complications.

Below you will find reports from visitors to this website. Feel free to add your own experience (positive or negative) with regards to amlodipine.


Paul43, March 22, 1011:

I take amlodipine (Norvasc) and always have bouts of drowsiness. Is there another high blood pressure medication out there that would replace amlodipine without the drowsiness or do all blood pressure drugs cause drowsiness?


Vicki S, Feb. 20, 2010:

I have always had a problem with any kind of medicine since I was young. I am now on only two medicines for BP: atenolol and amlodipine. I suffer severe headaches and debilitating flu like symptoms without the muscle aches. I experience dizziness to the point of being immobile.

No doctor seems concerned or able to find anything to help. They just don’t want to deal with it. How dangerous are these side effects and what should I do?


Tyler, Oct. 26, 2010:

On my doctor’s advice I took 10mg of amlodipine (Norvasc) along with Carvedilol for about a year to control high blood pressure. I am otherwise healthy.

After my feet began swelling, I put up with it for as long as I could, but stopped when it became too painful to walk. So I called my doctor and told his nurse that I was stopping the two drugs, and asked if there was something else I could take.

They called back and scheduled an appointment. When I saw the doctor a few days later, he said he would not prescribe a new drug at that time. HE NEVER MENTIONED ANY POSSIBLE PROBLEM FROM ABRUPTLY STOPPING THE AMLODIPINE. About 10 days later I developed extreme “rebound hypertension,” with BP soaring to as high as 220 over 118.

Two weeks later, I am STILL struggling with high hypertension!! These doctors cause more problems than they solve by failing to give patients the info they need to make intelligent health decisions. Had I been warned, I would NOT have stopped the drugs abruptly, but sought advice on how to wean myself off of them.


Janice, June 25, 2009:

I have been taking many medicines for my blood pressure. Currently I am taking Metoprolol ER Succinate (100 MG), Diovan (320 MG), Hydroclorothiazide (12.5 MG), Levothyroxine (0.05 MG), and Amoldopine Besylate (5 MG) for my blood pressure.

My problem is that recently the Amoldopine Besylate was added. I have been smelling cigarette smoke which is not there.

I thought maybe I was going crazy until I went on the internet and saw that someone else was having the same senses, but it was with a different medicine. I would like to know if any of my medicines are causing this. It is weird. I work in a smoke free environment, yet I walk into the doctors offices and smell smoke and I am the only one smelling it.


Jimmybw, Jan. 23, 2011:

Interesting. I noticed the past two years that my feet get really cold at night. I never linked it to my medications. I checked with my Doctor, and he believed it could be a side effect of the Amlodipine. In fact, he was having the same issue with the drug.

What caught my eye here was the comment about smelling cigarette smoke. I’ve noticed it as well. I thought someone may have been outside my home smoking, but never saw anyone.


SW, Oct, 2007:

I have taken Norvasc for 15 years without any problems. The new generic Amlodipine Besylate caused me to have every side effect listed, headache, dizziness, nausea and swelling of the feet and ankles. Unfortunately since there is now a generic available the cost of Norvasc is sky high.

 

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  1. linda
    ar.
    Reply

    i’ve been taking amlodipine for 5 years i’m all bumpy,itchy and my skin is shedding like a snake my dr. took me off of it in june but my skin is still the same way how long does it take for my skin to get back right and the hot burning needles flashes.

  2. Lisa
    Reply

    I have been taking this meds for about almost a year I think. One thing I know for sure is that it does help lower your blood pressure. I am overweight, not much but I told my doctor that I don’t want to be on this meds for the rest of my life.

    I am trying to lose weight and stay away from salt. I experience warmth of the face and hands, dizziness, but not that bad. I even had to go to a cardiologist because I was experiencing heart palpitations only at night at bedtime. I know all my symptoms was expected to happen. I just feel not in control lol. I hate feeling lost and clueless about stuff. I know these pills are the cause, but my doc said that my meds are not doing anything but what they are supposed to do, and that’s lowering your blood pressure…lol..so yeah stay on your meds and do all that you can to get off. Lose weight, stop worry etc…

  3. Nancy
    illinois
    Reply

    I have been taking 5mg of Amlodipine for one month with 100 mg of metoprolol and 25mcg of Levothyroxine for some time. After 20 days of the Amlodipine I developed a rash on my neck, chest and two spots on my face. They itch really bad and would not get better for one week.

    I went to the Dr. And he prescribed a cream to put on the rash twice a day. It did nothing. I was using alum which helped me the most and a spray lanacane for the itching. Nine more days went by and I could of handle it. The rash was now on my legs inside and where my underpants would rub. It started also on my arms. I called the Dr. once again and he wanted to give me a drug for the rash now and the itching, I told him the only thing new I had was the BP Ned’s that were new. He did not think that would cause a rash.

    I told him I was going to stop the drug. He said for me to stay off it for the weekend and see how it went, I also monitor my BP at home for some time. Blood pressure mess do not do well with me. The metoprolol is the only one I can stand, I have had three others before the Amlodipine and all of the. Gave me side effects. My pressure has been in the low 130’s over 68-74. Maybe my pressure should be in the 130’s. I feel much better now and have more energy and am sleeping better without all the additional BP drugs. Doctors don’t have all the answers, we have to listen to our bodies. I really have learned to pay attention to mine.

  4. Judith
    Indiana
    Reply

    I have been taking amlodipine for awhile and I have horrible flushing and hot feeling in my face. Does anyone else experience this?

    • Nancy
      Reply

      Yes I had the hot face as well. Since I have hot flashes I don’t know about flushing unless one of my BP mess is causing that as well.

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