Calcium channel blockers


00:00 / 00:00



Calcium channel blockers

Medicine and surgery

Allergy and immunology

Antihistamines for allergies


Cardiology, cardiac surgery and vascular surgery

Coronary artery disease: Clinical (To be retired)

Heart failure: Clinical (To be retired)

Syncope: Clinical (To be retired)

Hypertension: Clinical (To be retired)

Hypercholesterolemia: Clinical (To be retired)

Peripheral vascular disease: Clinical (To be retired)

Leg ulcers: Clinical (To be retired)

Adrenergic antagonists: Alpha blockers

Adrenergic antagonists: Beta blockers

ACE inhibitors, ARBs and direct renin inhibitors

Thiazide and thiazide-like diuretics

Calcium channel blockers

Lipid-lowering medications: Statins

Lipid-lowering medications: Fibrates

Miscellaneous lipid-lowering medications

Antiplatelet medications

Dermatology and plastic surgery

Hypersensitivity skin reactions: Clinical (To be retired)

Eczematous rashes: Clinical (To be retired)

Papulosquamous skin disorders: Clinical (To be retired)

Alopecia: Clinical (To be retired)

Hypopigmentation skin disorders: Clinical (To be retired)

Benign hyperpigmented skin lesions: Clinical (To be retired)

Skin cancer: Clinical (To be retired)

Endocrinology and ENT (Otolaryngology)

Diabetes mellitus: Clinical (To be retired)

Hyperthyroidism: Clinical (To be retired)

Hypothyroidism and thyroiditis: Clinical (To be retired)

Dizziness and vertigo: Clinical (To be retired)

Hyperthyroidism medications

Hypothyroidism medications


Hypoglycemics: Insulin secretagogues

Miscellaneous hypoglycemics

Gastroenterology and general surgery

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Clinical (To be retired)

Peptic ulcers and stomach cancer: Clinical (To be retired)

Diarrhea: Clinical (To be retired)

Malabsorption: Clinical (To be retired)

Colorectal cancer: Clinical (To be retired)

Diverticular disease: Clinical (To be retired)

Anal conditions: Clinical (To be retired)

Cirrhosis: Clinical (To be retired)

Breast cancer: Clinical (To be retired)

Laxatives and cathartics


Acid reducing medications

Hematology and oncology

Anemia: Clinical (To be retired)

Anticoagulants: Warfarin

Anticoagulants: Direct factor inhibitors

Antiplatelet medications

Infectious diseases

Pneumonia: Clinical (To be retired)

Urinary tract infections: Clinical (To be retired)

Skin and soft tissue infections: Clinical (To be retired)

Protein synthesis inhibitors: Aminoglycosides

Antimetabolites: Sulfonamides and trimethoprim

Miscellaneous cell wall synthesis inhibitors

Protein synthesis inhibitors: Tetracyclines

Cell wall synthesis inhibitors: Penicillins

Miscellaneous protein synthesis inhibitors

Cell wall synthesis inhibitors: Cephalosporins

DNA synthesis inhibitors: Metronidazole

DNA synthesis inhibitors: Fluoroquinolones

Herpesvirus medications



Miscellaneous antifungal medications

Anti-mite and louse medications

Nephrology and urology

Chronic kidney disease: Clinical (To be retired)

Kidney stones: Clinical (To be retired)

Urinary incontinence: Pathology review

ACE inhibitors, ARBs and direct renin inhibitors

PDE5 inhibitors

Adrenergic antagonists: Alpha blockers

Neurology and neurosurgery

Stroke: Clinical (To be retired)

Lower back pain: Clinical (To be retired)

Headaches: Clinical (To be retired)

Migraine medications

Pulmonology and thoracic surgery

Asthma: Clinical (To be retired)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Clinical (To be retired)

Lung cancer: Clinical (To be retired)

Antihistamines for allergies

Bronchodilators: Beta 2-agonists and muscarinic antagonists

Bronchodilators: Leukotriene antagonists and methylxanthines

Pulmonary corticosteroids and mast cell inhibitors

Rheumatology and orthopedic surgery

Joint pain: Clinical (To be retired)

Rheumatoid arthritis: Clinical (To be retired)

Lower back pain: Clinical (To be retired)

Anatomy clinical correlates: Clavicle and shoulder

Anatomy clinical correlates: Arm, elbow and forearm

Anatomy clinical correlates: Wrist and hand

Anatomy clinical correlates: Median, ulnar and radial nerves

Anatomy clinical correlates: Bones, joints and muscles of the back

Anatomy clinical correlates: Hip, gluteal region and thigh

Anatomy clinical correlates: Knee

Anatomy clinical correlates: Leg and ankle

Anatomy clinical correlates: Foot

Acetaminophen (Paracetamol)

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs


Opioid agonists, mixed agonist-antagonists and partial agonists

Antigout medications

Non-biologic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)

Osteoporosis medications


Calcium channel blockers


0 / 12 complete


Calcium channel blockers

of complete

Memory Anchors and Partner Content

External References

First Aid








Amlodipine p. 325



Ursula Florjanczyk, MScBMC

Victoria S. Recalde, MD

Evan Debevec-McKenney

Calcium entry blockers, or calcium channel blockers - CCBs for short - are vasodilators, or medications that promote dilation of blood vessels. These medications are mainly used to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure, and angina pectoris, which is a pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. Now, by definition, blood pressure is the force that blood exerts on the walls of blood vessels and it’s basically what keeps blood flowing and perfusing tissues to deliver oxygen and nutrients. Hypertension happens when this pressure is higher than it should be. In most cases, the cause is unknown.

But basically, we can do a number of things to help lower the blood pressure. First, we can decrease the heart rate or the myocardial contractility, so the heart pumps less blood into the blood vessels. In other words, diminish the amount of blood that exerts force upon the same area. Or, we can vasodilate the peripheral blood vessels, which increases the area for the same amount of liquid that exerts force. Angina, on the other hand, is a type of chest pain caused by insufficient oxygen supply to the myocardium to meet its demand. Generally, the underlying cause is the presence of atheromatous plaques in the coronary arteries which decreases the blood flow to the heart. So, to help diminish the symptoms, it’s important to decrease the oxygen demand of the heart, again by decreasing heart rate or myocardial contractility; and increasing the oxygen supply by vasodilating the coronary arteries.

Now, let’s look at how calcium channels affect heart function. First off, the heart rate depends on the rate that the pacemaker cells in the sinus and atrioventricular node generate action potentials. These action potentials start automatically when sodium channels slowly let in a stream of sodium ions, which causes the membrane potential of the pacemaker cells to become more positive. When this reaches the threshold membrane potential, it’s the cue for voltage-gated calcium channels to open, allowing a large influx of calcium ions, which depolarizes it further. Then, these calcium channels close and potassium channels open to let potassium out of the cell, so the membrane potential goes back down, or repolarizes. Now, each cycle of depolarization and repolarization represents a single heartbeat, so how fast this process repeats in one minute determines the heart rate.


Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are a class of drugs that cause vasodilation, and are mainly used to treat high blood pressure and angina pectoris. CCBs block calcium flow into the smooth muscle cells of your blood vessels, resulting in vasodilation and reduced blood pressure. They also work on cardiac muscle cells to reduce contractility and abnormally increased heart rate.

CCBs are grouped into two main types; dihydropyridines and non-dihydropyridines. Dihydropyridines mainly cause vasodilation and so are used to treat hypertension and angina. Examples of dihydropyridines include amlodipine, nicardipine, and nifedipine). The non-dihydropyridines target the heart muscle cells and decrease the heart rate and contractility. They are usually used to treat tachyarrhythmias, but also angina, because by reducing the heart rate and contractility, they bring down cardiac demand. Examples of non-dihydropyridines include diltiazem and verapamil. CCBs are typically well-tolerated, but they can cause certain side effects, such as dizziness, lightheadedness, and swelling of the ankles or legs.


  1. "Katzung & Trevor's Pharmacology Examination and Board Review,12th Edition" McGraw-Hill Education / Medical (2018)
  2. "Rang and Dale's Pharmacology" Elsevier (2019)
  3. "Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 13th Edition" McGraw-Hill Education / Medical (2017)
  4. "Hurst's the Heart, 14th Edition: Two Volume Set" McGraw-Hill Education / Medical (2017)
  5. "Amlodipine: an overview of its pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties" Clin Cardiol (1994)
  6. "Calcium Channel Blockers" The Journal of Clinical Hypertension (2011)
  7. "Calcium channel blockers for primary and secondary Raynaud's phenomenon" Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2017)

Copyright © 2023 Elsevier, except certain content provided by third parties

Cookies are used by this site.

USMLE® is a joint program of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). COMLEX-USA® is a registered trademark of The National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, Inc. NCLEX-RN® is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. Test names and other trademarks are the property of the respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are endorsed by nor affiliated with Osmosis or this website.