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Ann Intern Med. 1980 Dec;93(6):875-85.

Calcium channel blocking agents in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders. Part I: Basic and clinical electrophysiologic effects.


Calcium ions play an important role in the cardiovascular system. They are involved in electrophysiologic processes, link excitation to muscular contraction, control energy storage and utilization, and constrict vascular smooth muscle in coronary and systemic arteries. A new group of pharmacologic agents that block the passage of calcium ions across cell membranes has been developed. These agents act during the slow inward current of cellular depolarization. The most extensive clinical experience has been obtained with four of these agents: verapamil, nifedipine, perhexiline, and diltiazem. Verapamil, which has profound electrophysiologic effects on the slow inward current, is emerging as a valuable antiarrhythmic agent. Re-entrant supraventricular arrhythmias, such as paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, are particularly amenable to treatment with intravenous verapamil. Preliminary trials of long-term therapy with oral verapamil for control of atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, and paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia suggest that this agent is effective for therapy of these arrhythmias.

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