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. Rita

    I have been on Norvasc (amlodipine) and Ramipril for 10 months now. My BP was very high. With those medications 136 – 90 .
    Trouble sleeping, waking up for washroom too many times.
    Tired, tired and… again day and night. Thinking is not clear. One time bad hyperventilation, which I never had in my life before. Dizzy. Anxiety. Never before these medications. Life is not good, no energy. I learned that Ramipril inhibits serotonin. Norvasc also affects moods and makes my eyes watery in cool weather, constant tearing. I have lots of tissue with me when I go for my one hour walk each day.
    I got really alarmed, when my breast became tender and sore.. I am 66 y old, no hormone therapy or anything that could cause it. And pain in muscles. Legs, arms, neck, upper back… this is not normal, so I searched the net, to find out that both medications can cause muscle pains and breast tenderness, even in males. It is listed as seldom experienced side effects. What to do now, I must get rid of those and get something else. This week I am talking to my doctor, and see if he has a solution for me.

  2. Shiela

    I have always believed setting a BP goal of 120/80 for people over 40 is totally unrealistic. Why is older people being force fed medications to reach this goal? A physician visit showing BP range of 150/90 is not a mandate for extreme medicating. I am taking AMLODIPINE. I have read the horror stories. Unfortunately, I can’t find another medication that is effective for me. I think, physicians prescribe medication without taking into consideration overlapping. I have stopped taking AMLODIPINE previously. It was a least 3 months before medication completely out of my system. I can’t take ace inhibitors due to allergic reaction. Sadly, once you are on the medication “Ferris wheel” it is impossible to get off.

  3. karen

    I HAVE LATE CHRONIC lyme disease, Diastolic heart failure, Passive COPD, empathetic kidney. Problems had Washington just lost my thyroid to Cancer..but removal contained it! I have avascular necrosis of my right and left hips and both my shoulders… left one being so bad it needs replacing but I am a high risk… I have visuals valve problems born with congenital heart problems… 3 holes in my heart, and Bicuspid Valve issues, with left ventricle and Septle valve defects… Raynaud’s Phenomenon. Unstable angina, and really severe is two arthritis with lyme arthritis’ that disables me as far as unable to walk. Or stand for more then a few moments with walker or canes… partly due to degenerated spine and discovering upper neck down into tail bone and sciatica… 38 different meds… and two different doses of amlodipine..7.25mg. Tons of water retention… surges anywhere from 5 to 25 or 30 pounds water weight over a three day craziness… gains and losses. Trying to help battle that…. I wonder if there is an alternative to amlodopine that would work to reduce that water retention and very painful swelling…? It’s a right painful situation to say the least, any advice ?

  4. David

    I am a 49 year old male in good shape for my age; used to working out 1-2 hours, 5 days a week. Prescribed amlodipine for high BP (beginning of December); never really had to take prescription meds before. After about two weeks started to experience lightheadedness; this has gotten increasingly worse. Scalp, face and shoulders now tingling and sensitive to pressure, very on edge, tired and lethargic but only sleep a couple of hours during the night. Starting to get a little depressed too. All this is VERY unlike like me. Not working out at all right now by the way; don’t feel well enough. Thought I had sinus and/or inner ear problem at first but apparently that is not the case. I can only put this down to the meds at this point. I have friends and family in the medical field who agree although my doctor tells me that it can’t be the meds since it is well tolerated by most people. Maybe I am not most people. Guessing a lot of folks on here are not “most people” either. Thanks to everyone for sharing your experiences!

  5. Debbie

    Was on this med 2 years now. I was always skinny but now gained 30 lbs. also itching and bumps on skin. I think I shall try another.

  6. matt
    Belleville , NJ

    I take amlodipine 10 mg for my pressure, I read that Vitamin D and Magnesium can help support blood pressure, but a warning comes with taking Magnesium with diuretics. Is this a no-no altogether or will it only block some absorption?

    • The People's Pharmacy

      Amlodipine is not a diuretic, and a low dose of magnesium should not interfere with the medication.

  7. AnnF

    I liked this medicine in generic form when I first took it, but then my pharmacy switched brands of generics. Since then I have had all kinds of problems. The worst ones were chronic cough and severe chest pains. Five doctors told me that amlodipine (and hydrochlorothiazide, which is a water pill) could not be causing it. I slowly stepped down my intake to 1/2 dose every 3 days, and guess what? That’s right, no pain, no cough. The latest info on both says cough and chest pains. My old doctor used to look up any medicine he prescribed each and every time. My new doctors just seem to go by memory and never look to see if new info was added.

  8. Diana

    Oh my goodness, I thought it was just me and that I was going crazy! I too over the past few weeks have noticed the odor of smoke. I’ve also started having to cut any type of elastic in my shoes because of swelling by the end of the day. Sometimes, all I can think about is getting home to take a nap and can barely keep my eyes open at the end of the day to see a movie. I’m going to try to start taking some Norvasc that I had prior to switching to the Amlodipine. The Amlodipine is free now because it’s generic I think for a 90 day supply the last time I paid out of pocket I may have paid more than $130 but it’s worth the quality of life to pay and be able to function. Oh and yes, I’ve had bouts of dizziness as well. Wow, I’m glad I saw a story on TV about the People’s Pharmacy and checked out this website. Thank you.

  9. Martha
    New York

    I am taking amlodipine besylate 10mg (had a bad episode when my calcium was 12.2) also take propranolol 10 mg 3 times a day (for palpitations/migraines). My scalp is itching like crazy. I have some swelling of legs/ankles. I am tired all the time. palpitations almost knock me over some times. Metal taste in mouth. Nasal allergies are horrid. my blood sugar drops to the 70’s. I get dizzy and headaches are awful.

    I also have to take pantprazole for my stomach, Calcitroil because I had my parathyroids removed, calcium, fish oil, magnesium, potassium, zinc, multivitamin/mineral, lysine, and I take garcinia cambosia. Doctors never say anything but. I hate living like this.

  10. KDelphi

    Anybody else have blood sugar shoot up? (I am also on generic lipitor) I want off, but I tried ACE inhibitors and had an allergic reaction (ER type), so I tried beta blockers; they made me depressed and my hair fell out–its never grown back), then these CCB [calcium channel blockers]…I dont like them, but what else can I do? BP gets as high as 240/180 and everyone in my family died of heart (except one brain cancer).

  11. Michele

    Me again about Metoprolol and Amlodipine together. On my last comment in June, I mentioned how I feel on these 2 meds. Still on 12.5mg Metoprolol in the AM with 5 mg Norvasc, then 25mg Metoprolol at night. I was on 10mg Amlodipine, but insisted on cutting to 5mg, so I cut them in half.
    I have been on this for months and still feel awful. Get overwhelmingly tired, off balance, down, and have had terrible nasal allergies. Also flushing and dry feeling. I don’t know what else to do because again, the doctor seems to not have a lot of knowledge about meds.
    I am changing primary doctor in September and hope he can help. My heart also jumps a lot and Metoprolol for a few hours makes my pulse go under 60. Late in the day before the next dose of Metoprolol, I start getting a nervous stomach and flushing. Have to take the evening dose of Metoprolol early some days and the feeling goes away within an hour.
    I have had bad reactions to Lisinopril, Toprol XL, Lotensin, and am scared to death now of all BP medications. I also read not to take the Calcium I need with Amlodipine, which is a calcium channel blocker.
    OF NOTE: Very interesting. My husband has a pacemaker due to A-FIB. He is on many medications and is like a zombie most of the time due to lack of interest and tired all the time. Recently, his cardiologist put him on CO-Q-10 300 mg daily to help strengthen his heart. His blood pressure had been running pretty normal on his meds,but since on CO-Q 10, his blood pressure is way down before he takes his medications and his doctor has cut some of them down or out.
    He also has stenosis and osteoarthritis, which has greatly improved on the Co-Q-10. He had to cut the Co-Q-10 down for a while because his BP was going too low. Now he takes less Co-Q-10 and BP is good. We asked the doctor about whether this can lower blood pressure, he seemed not to be aware?? What!
    Read up on an unbiased site about Co-Q-10. Very interesting. It’s a shame we all have to doctor ourselves and have to live with the fear of not trusting our doctors. Also read on Dr. Oz site about generics. Check it out. But, never cold turkey a blood pressure medicine without the doctor telling you. (If you trust the doctor, which I do not).

  12. bjk

    I am like you… I’ve had so many complications since starting the drug Norvasc. I really can’t understand why I had high blood pressure anyway. I lived in Florida and was in the best shape of my life. Walked constantly, rode my bike and was on the beach walking every day sometimes twice a day.
    Started having really bad headaches, went to the doctor and he put me on Norvasc. I started blowing up like an old spayed female dog, I am now 40 lbs. overweight and still growing. I’ve never felt so bad: headaches, heart palpitations (my whole family has died of heart problems), swelling of my legs, friggin tired ALL the time, head is so foggy that can’t do my job, feeling of doom also.
    I want OFF of this drug!! I’m into health food and really want to go natural. I went to the doctor after figuring out that Norvasc was what was causing the problems and he put me on another BP med. It COMPLETELY stopped kidneys and my kidneys have never been the same. So, I went back on Norvasc. What has anyone found out???

  13. MH

    I truly dislike this medicine! My feet and ankles are swollen, I have pain in my joints, and shortness of breath. I’m taking 5 mg. once a day. I want OFF of this med but was told by my doctor to come in next week and “we’ll talk about it.”
    I’m 80 years old and I’m already taking 2 other BP meds which are keeping my BP at 140/80 but he wants my readings to be 120/70. The newest AMA reports are that the elderly are just fine with BP at 140 so this is just overkill.
    Do I dare stop it abruptly or must I wean myself off this terrible assault on my health?

  14. joy

    I take both also. Is it ok to take together? I also take 9 other meds too. What side effects do you have?

  15. TurboPh.D.

    Amplodipine makes me feel dragged down, tired, sluggish, and sometimes I almost pass out.
    Long term users have repeatedly stated that this medicine made them feel badly, then they stop, and feel way better.
    I’m contemplating stopping this stuff. The VA has limited kinds of BP meds. And, they are always always always the cheapest generics one can find.
    I’m about to ask if they can go outside and special order as I’m tired of the way this stuff makes me feel. Heck with all the dizziness, about to pass out mess, and the whole ordeal.

  16. Anonymous

    They just seem to get worse, not go away.

  17. Marilyn D.

    The comments on this site are saving my sanity and more. I was diagnosed first with Peripheral Neuropathy, years later Diabetes2. Prescribed: Glimeperide 1mg for Diabetes, Enalapiril 2.5mg for high Blood pressure. Enapiril seemed responsible for sporadic coughing so was switched to the generic for Norvasc, Amlodipine Besylate.
    I am now experiencing an extensive itchy rash on my legs, arms and patches on other parts of my body. Still coughing, metallic mouth taste, loss of taste all foods and drink. Swollen feet, infected? eyelids, excessive tearing and runny nose, vision change and thinning hair. The rash on my right leg has extended into the already peeling, scabby area of the neuropathy affected area of my leg and a wound opened.
    I was given Antibiotics, Amoxicillin and Cipro. Dr. Suggested a switch to Toprol as a replacement for Norvasco I declined. Now all Meds including Antibiotics has been stopped. All symptoms mentioned including a state of confusion and a loss of balance are more dramatically intense than expressed. At age 90 I still love life. Now exploring, how to proceed?

  18. John R.

    I’ve been taking amalodopina since 2010 and my feet are now swollen and ankles are nowhere to be seen. I also have a skin rash that doesn’t seem to heal and this has been going on since I started taking this additional medicine.

    • JC

      I have taken amlodipine for over a year. I noticed my feet and ankles swelled up when I was at 5mg. Only after my VA doctor increased my meds to 10mg in June 2014, I noticed that my feet and ankles swelled up more than usual and other side effects started to come on: like my mouth would get so dry during the night to the point I would get up coughing and choking with my tongue so dry I could feel every taste bud dried out on the roof of my mouth. Then within 3 months right eyelid swells up for about a month. The VA says it is not from the amlodipine. Hair loss everyday. By the first week of November I get this burning feeling in my right armpit. My skin is burning. I just think it will go away but then this burning feeling spreads to my left armpit and then it broke out in a rash that discolors my skin as if I was punched in my arm pits. Contacted my VA and after they looked at it does not believe it has anything to do with the increase of amolodipine.

      I was given a topical cream to relief this all over body rash and this is back on December. The New Year is here 2015 and I am still breaking out worse than before and the ER doctor tells me I have to see a dermatologist. I am no longer taking any BP but monitoring my blood pressure everyday. So far, I have been maintaining it between 130/80 to 120/70. Hopefully the VA will stop my meds on the next checkup appointment. Thank for each of you sharing your experiences. I am not an isolated case.

  19. EA

    I have been taking amlodipine for years without side effects although now I see that it can cause dizziness and I do have balance problems. But all of a sudden my feet and ankles have swollen horribly. They are like play dough. I can press with my fingers and the skin doesn’t pop back. It leaves an indentation. I’ve gone for an arterial doppler and a venal doppler but nothing showed. I’m taking a water pill but that doesn’t help. Can Amlodipine start causing swollen ankles after years of taking it? I stopped the medication 2 days ago. No improvement yet. How long would it take for the swelling to start going down?

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