| WHY is this medicine prescribed?
| HOW should this medicine be used?
| Are there OTHER USES for this medicine?
| What SPECIAL DIETARY instructions should I follow?
| What should I do IF I FORGET to take a dose?
| What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?
| What should I know about STORAGE and DISPOSAL of this medication?
| What should I do in case of OVERDOSE?
| What OTHER INFORMATION should I know?
WHY is this medicine prescribed?
Nicardipine is used to treat high blood pressure. It relaxes your blood vessels so your heart does not have to pump as hard. It also increases the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart to control chest pain (angina). If taken regularly, nicardipine controls chest pain, but it does not stop chest pain once it starts. Your doctor may give you a different medication to take when you have chest pain.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
HOW should this medicine be used?
Nicardipine comes as a regular capsule and as an extended-release (long-acting) capsule to take by mouth. The regular capsule is usually taken three times a day. The extended-release capsule is usually taken two times a day and is swallowed whole. Do not chew, divide, or crush the capsule. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take nicardipine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Nicardipine controls high blood pressure and chest pain (angina) but does not cure them. Continue to take nicardipine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking nicardipine without talking to your doctor.
Are there OTHER USES for this medicine?
Nicardipine is also used sometimes to treat congestive heart failure. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.
What SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS should I follow?
Before taking nicardipine,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to nicardipine or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially carbamazepine (Tegretol); cimetidine (Tagamet); cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); fentanyl (Duragesic); heart and blood pressure medications such as beta-blockers, digoxin (Lanoxin), diuretics ('water pills'), and quinidine (Quinaglute, Quinidex); medications to treat glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye); phenytoin (Dilantin); ranitidine (Zantac); theophylline (Theo-Dur); and vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had heart, liver, or kidney disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking nicardipine, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking nicardipine.
What SPECIAL DIETARY instructions should I follow?
Regular nicardipine capsules may be taken with or without food. The extended-release capsules should be taken with food, but avoid high-fat foods or high-fat meals.
Avoid drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit 1 hour before or for 2 hours after taking nicardipine.
Talk to your doctor before using salt substitutes containing potassium. If your doctor prescribes a low-salt or low-sodium diet, follow these directions carefully.
What should I do IF I FORGET to take a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?
Nicardipine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- upset stomach
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- excessive tiredness
- flushing (feeling of warmth)
- fast heartbeat
- muscle cramps
- increased sweating
- dry mouth
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, arms, or legs
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- increase in frequency or severity of chest pain (angina)
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at Web Site] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
What should I know about STORAGE and DISPOSAL of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
What should I do in case of OVERDOSE?
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
What OTHER INFORMATION should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your blood pressure should be checked regularly to determine your response to nicardipine.
The extended-release capsule does not dissolve in the stomach after swallowing. It slowly releases medicine as it passes through your small intestines. It is not unusual to see the capsule shell in the stool.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Last Reviewed: September 1, 2010.