Scientists Have Raised Concerns About the Common Blood Pressure Drug Amlodipine. But Is It Actually Dangerous?

Prescription Medicine Pills Spilling

A recent study confirms the safety of amlodipine, a common hypertension drug, dispelling concerns over its potential cardiovascular risks. The study, supported by a comprehensive analysis, advocates for continuing amlodipine as a primary treatment for high blood pressure.

A recent study published in the journal Function, published by Oxford University Press, presents reassuring findings regarding the safety of amlodipine, a drug widely prescribed for hypertension. Despite recent concerns raised by some researchers and clinicians about potential risks associated with amlodipine, the study concludes that the drug is not harmful to patients.

Hypertension, a condition affecting around 116 million Americans and one in five adults globally, is linked to approximately 700,000 deaths annually in the United States alone. The disease contributes to 7.6 million deaths worldwide each year. Without treatment, hypertension can greatly increase the likelihood of early death due to heart attacks, strokes, or kidney diseases.

Amlodipine’s Role in Treating Hypertension

One widely prescribed drug for treating hypertension is amlodipine, now taken regularly in pill form by over 70 million Americans. Amlodipine inhibits a type of calcium channel that is found on blood vessels. When the calcium channel opens, calcium enters the muscle and causes it to constrict, increasing blood pressure. Amlodipine prevents calcium from coming in, leading to vessel relaxation and a decrease in blood pressure. 

Recent Concerns and New Findings

Recently some researchers have questioned the benefit of amlodipine for treating hypertension. Studies suggested that amlodipine may activate a different type of calcium channel, resulting in changes to blood vessels and an increase in heart failure in patients. Removing amlodipine as a prescribed anti-hypertensive medication carries significant health implications, since hypertension is such a common health condition.

A new study by research teams from the National Institutes of Health and Glasgow University finds that taking amlodipine is unlikely to result in an increase in heart failure in patients. The researchers found that amlodipine appears to have unique chemical properties that caused the drug to mimic the calcium channel activation, without in fact opening the channels as clinicians worried. When the study’s authors controlled for these chemical properties, they found that amlodipine did not activate calcium channels. A meta-analysis combining clinical trials and a prospective real-world analysis both showed that amlodipine was not associated with increased heart failure or other cardiovascular problems.

“Removal of amlodipine as a front-line therapy would most likely increase deaths from hypertension dramatically,” said Anant Parekh, one of the study’s authors. “The study recommends that amlodipine remain a first-line treatment for high blood pressure.”

Reference: “A Reappraisal of the Effects of L-type Ca2+ Channel Blockers on Store-Operated Ca2+ Entry and Heart Failure” by Gary S Bird, Diane D’Agostin, Safaa Alsanosi, Stefanie Lip, Sandosh Padmanabhan and Anant B Parekh, 12 October 2023, Function.
DOI: 10.1093/function/zqad047

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