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Chest. 1991 Jul;100(1):17-22.

Inhaled verapamil-induced bronchoconstriction in mild asthma.

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Department of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville.


Methacholine challenges were performed in ten subjects with mild asthma at 2 h before and 20 min after placebo or 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, and 160 mg of inhaled verapamil given in a single-blind randomized crossover manner on different days. While verapamil did not have a bronchodilator effect, the 10-mg dose modestly increased the concentration of methacholine required to decrease FEV1 by 20 percent (PC20). The mean (+/- SEM) increase in PC20 from baseline was 2.1 +/- 0.2 times baseline after 10 mg of verapamil, compared to 1.1 +/- 0.1 times baseline after placebo (p less than 0.001). Unexpectedly, bronchoconstriction (greater than 10 percent decrease in FEV1) associated with cough or wheezing was observed in seven of ten subjects at doses of 20 mg or more. This adverse effect was not related to the osmolarity of the nebulized solutions. Thirty minutes before a standardized exercise challenge, 13 subjects inhaled placebo, 10 mg, or the highest dose of verapamil tolerated during the methacholine study (20 to 160 mg) in a double-blind randomized crossover manner. The exercise challenge was aborted in three subjects because of bronchospasm that occurred after administration of the higher dose. The mean (+/- SEM) maximum change in FEV1 after exercise in the ten subjects completing all three regimens of treatment was -17.1 +/- 4.0 percent after placebo, -12.7 +/- 4.3 percent after 10 mg (p less than 0.05), and -6.4 +/- 3.6 percent after the highest dose (p less than 0.05). We conclude that increasing the dose of verapamil above 10 mg did not provide greater benefit but, paradoxically, induced bronchoconstriction in most of the subjects. Because of this potential bronchoconstrictor effect, high doses of oral or intravenous verapamil should be used with caution in asthmatic subjects.

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