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J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2003 Jul-Aug;5(4):291-4, 297.

Calcium channel blocker-related periperal edema: can it be resolved?

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Section of Clinical Pharmacology and Hypertension, Division of Nephrology, Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298-0160, USA.


Calcium channel blocker (CCB)-related edema is quite common in clinical practice and can effectively deter a clinician from continued prescription of these drugs. Its etiology relates to a decrease in arteriolar resistance that goes unmatched in the venous circulation. This disproportionate change in resistance increases hydrostatic pressures in the precapillary circulation and permits fluid shifts into the interstitial compartment. CCB-related edema is more common in women and relates to upright posture, age, and the choice and dose of the CCB. Once present it can be slow to resolve without intervention. A number of strategies exist to treat CCB-related edema, including switching CCB classes, reducing the dosage, and/or adding a known venodilator such as a nitrate, an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, or an angiotensin-receptor blocker to the treatment regimen. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors have been best studied in this regard. Diuretics may alter the edema state somewhat, but at the expense of further reducing plasma volume. Traditional measures such as limiting the amount of time that a patient is upright and/or considering use of graduated compression stockings are useful adjunctive therapies. Discontinuing the CCB and switching to an alternative antihypertensive therapy will resolve the edema.

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