What Is Norvasc?
Norvasc (amlodipine) is a long-acting calcium channel blocker used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) and chest pain due to coronary artery disease (CAD).
Although it primarily affects the calcium located in the cells of the heart muscle, the effects of Norvasc can extend to the blood vessels and reduce blood pressure by relaxing the muscles surrounding them.
Norvasc is a prescription-only medication available in tablet and liquid form.
Generic Name: Amlodipine besylate
Brand Name(s): Norvasc, Norliqva, Katerzia
Drug Availability: Prescription
Administration Route: Oral
Therapeutic Classification: Calcium channel blocker
Available Generically: Yes
Controlled Substance: N/A
Active Ingredient: Amlodipine besylate
Dosage Form(s): Tablet, solution, suspension
What Is Norvasc Used For?
Norvasc is a blood pressure–lowering (i.e., antihypertensive) medication. It can also be used to treat chest pain or angina associated with coronary artery disease.
How to Take Norvasc
Norvasc is a long-acting calcium channel blocker medication, which is why it is given once daily. It can be taken without regard to food and should not be taken more than once daily. Take the medication by mouth exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have any questions about how to take it. Do not give your medication to other people, even if they have the same symptoms you have, as it can potentially cause harm.
Store Norvasc in its original bottle at room temperature of 68 to 77 degrees F. The medication should be dispensed from the pharmacy in a tightly sealed and light-resistant container. Keep it in a dry and safe area away from children and pets.
Healthcare providers may prescribe amlodipine for off-label uses, meaning for conditions not specifically indicated by the FDA. These uses have limited research on them and include:
- Diabetic nephropathy (a type of kidney disease)
- Left ventricular hypertrophy (thickening of the wall of the main valve of the heart)
- Raynaud’s phenomenon (condition in which body parts such as the fingers and toes become cool and numb)
- Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) (type of high blood pressure affecting the heart and lung arteries)
How Long Does Norvasc Take to Work?
You should receive the maximum benefits within six to 12 hours of a dose. Amlodipine may stay present in the body for up to 30 to 50 hours after each dose, and your body may take up to a week to adjust to this medication.
What Are the Side Effects of Norvasc?
This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.
Common Side Effects
Common side effects of Norvasc include:
- Mild swelling of lower extremities (edema)
- Stomach pain
- Hot or warm feeling on the face (flushing)
Severe Side Effects
Call your healthcare provider immediately if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.
In rare cases, people can present with angioedema, or sudden swelling below the skin’s surface. Angioedema can be caused by an abnormal response of your immune system due to allergies or hypersensitivity to a specific substance.
Consult with your healthcare provider if you experience an irregular heartbeat or fast heartbeat, new or worsening chest pain, or extreme dizziness that may cause you to pass out.
Long-Term Side Effects
In some cases, neglecting more common side effects of amlodipine can lead to long-term complications. For example, edema can become severe if left untreated. It is important to get your legs and feet examined by a healthcare provider regularly while taking Norvasc or any medication containing amlodipine.
Report Side Effects
Norvasc may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).
Dosage: How Much Norvasc Should I Take?
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The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor’s orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
For oral dosage forms (solution, suspension, or tablets):
For angina (chest pain):
- Adults—5 to 10 milligrams (mg) once a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 10 mg per day.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
For high blood pressure:
- Adults—At first, 5 milligrams (mg) once a day. Some patients may be started on 2.5 mg once a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 10 mg per day.
- Children 6 to 17 years of age—2.5 to 5 mg once a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 5 mg per day.
- Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For angina (chest pain):
Certain people may require a treatment or dosage change with amlodipine, depending on individual factors.
Children 6 to 17 years old with high blood pressure can be treated with a lower dose of amlodipine. Oral amlodipine is available in a solution (under the brand name Norliqva) or suspension (under the brand name Katerzia) for children, making it easier for them to swallow.
The highest dose of amlodipine has not yet been studied in children.
Amlodipine has not been well studied in pregnant people. It should only be given during pregnancy if the potential benefit justifies the risk to the fetus.
People over the age of 65 may have decreased kidney, liver, and heart function. Because of this, your healthcare provider may prescribe a lower dose.
Missed Dose of Norvasc
If you miss a dose of your medication, take it as soon as you remember. Do not take it if it has been more than 12 hours since you missed your last dose. Wait to take your next dose at your regular time.
Do not take an extra dose of Norvasc, as this can cause more harm than good. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you are unsure how much amlodipine you’ve taken or if you start to have a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or feel like fainting after taking more than one dose.
Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Norvasc?
Taking too much of this medication can dangerously lower blood pressure and cause a fast heart rate. Signs of a significant drop in blood pressure (lower than 90/60 millimeters of mercury, or mmHg) include:
A severe overdose may require medical attention involving heart rate and breathing monitoring and frequent blood pressure measurements.
What Happens If I Overdose on Norvasc?
If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Norvasc, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).
If someone collapses or isn’t breathing after taking Norvasc, call 911 immediately.
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It is very important that your doctor check your or your child’s progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
This medicine may cause worsening of angina (chest pain) or a heart attack in certain patients with severe heart or blood vessel disease. Check with your doctor right away if you are having chest pain or discomfort, fast or irregular heartbeat, nausea or vomiting, pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back, or neck, trouble breathing, or sweating.
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting may also occur, especially when you get up suddenly from a lying or sitting position. If you feel dizzy, lie down so you do not faint. Then sit for a few moments before standing to prevent the dizziness from returning. If you faint, call your doctor right away.
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting may also occur if you exercise or if the weather is hot. Heavy sweating can cause loss of too much water and result in low blood pressure. Use extra care during exercise or hot weather.
Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.
If you have been using this medicine regularly for several weeks, do not suddenly stop using it. Stopping suddenly may cause your chest pain or high blood pressure to come back or get worse. Check with your doctor for the best way to reduce gradually the amount you are taking before stopping completely.
After taking a dose of this medicine you may get a headache that lasts for a short time. This should become less noticeable after you have taken this medicine for a while. If this effect continues, or if the headaches are severe, check with your doctor.
In some patients, tenderness, swelling, or bleeding of the gums may appear soon after treatment with this medicine is started. Brushing and flossing your teeth carefully and regularly and massaging your gums may help prevent this. See your dentist regularly to have your teeth cleaned. Check with your doctor or dentist if you have any questions about how to take care of your teeth and gums, or if you notice any tenderness, swelling, or bleeding of your gums.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This especially includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines for appetite control, asthma, colds, cough, hay fever, or sinus problems, and herbal or vitamin supplements.
What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Norvasc?
You should not take Norvasc if you are allergic to amlodipine or have increased sensitivity towards any of the inactive ingredients. Your healthcare provider or pharmacist can provide you with a list of these ingredients to avoid any adverse reactions.
What Other Medications Interact With Norvasc?
Before starting Norvasc, talk with your healthcare provider about any other medicines you take or plan to take, including over-the-counter (OTC), nonprescription products, vitamins, herbs, or plant-based medicines.
Norvasc can interact with certain antibiotics, specifically Biaxin XL (clarithromycin) and Ery-Tab (erythromycin). Combining Norvasc and these antibiotics can increase your risk of low blood pressure and acute kidney injury due to an interaction that increases amlodipine’s effects.
Norvasc may also interact with high doses of statins, such as simvastatin or lovastatin, by increasing the risk of muscle pain and a rare disease called rhabdomyolysis. You may need a dosage adjustment before taking these two medications together.
Talk with your pharmacist or healthcare provider for more detailed information about medication interactions with Norvasc.
What Medications Are Similar?
Like Norvasc, the following medications are also calcium channel blockers:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Norvasc used for?
Norvasc treats high blood pressure and chest pain associated with the heart.
How does Norvasc work?
Norvasc works by blocking the calcium deep in the heart muscles and the blood vessels connected to it. The lower amount of calcium inside these cells leads to decreased contractions of the heart, increased relaxation in the blood vessels, and results in lower blood pressure.
What drugs should not be taken with Norvasc?
Medications in the same class as Norvasc should be avoided along with specific antibiotics, such as the macrolides, and specific statin therapy, such as high doses of simvastatin.
How long does it take for Norvasc to work?
It may take six to 12 hours for your body to feel the effects of Norvasc, but it may take up to a week to see the full effects.
What are the side effects of Norvasc?
Norvasc has few side effects, most of which are mild to moderate if taken as prescribed. In these cases, you may experience side effects associated with low blood pressure, such as:
- Swelling in your legs
How do I stop taking Norvasc?
If you experience any severe adverse events such as nearly fainting, severe swelling of your legs, or constant chest pain, discontinue your Norvasc and contact your healthcare provider immediately. Do not stop taking your prescribed medication if you are not experiencing any severe side effects unless directed by your healthcare provider.
How can Norvasc help my heart?
Norvasc can improve your blood pressure and allow your heart to work properly. Taking Norvasc for chest pain may reduce your chances of a heart attack as it will also keep your blood pressure down while treating your angina.
Should I stop my other medications while taking Norvasc?
Do not stop taking your other medications unless directed by your primary care provider or pharmacist. Additionally, you should never begin taking a new medication or supplement while taking Norvasc unless directed by your healthcare provider.
How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Norvasc?
Continue taking this medication regularly, even if you feel better, as it can take some time for the treatment to take effect.
In addition to your medication, try changing your eating habits to avoid foods high in salt, as these foods can contribute to high blood pressure. It is also beneficial to exercise. You can start by walking 30 minutes a day for about three to four days a week and slowly build your way up to an optimal 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise.
Overall, a healthy diet and frequent exercise are encouraged as recommended by your healthcare provider.
Verywell Health’s drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.
The author would like to recognize and thank Jaycob Pena for contributing to this article.