Rational use of calcium-channel antagonists in Raynaud's phenomenon

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Raynaud's phenomenon (RP) is a peripheral circulatory disorder characterized by sudden episodes of digital artery spasm, often precipitated by cold temperature or emotional stress. Although the cause of RP is not fully known, it appears to involve inappropriate adrenergic response to cold stimuli. Treatment of RP is conservative in most patients, but in patients with severe disease includes the use of agents that promote digital vasodilation. The calcium-channel antagonists, particularly the dihydropyridine derivative nifedipine, are the most thoroughly studied drug class for the treatment of RP. Approximately two thirds of patients respond favorably, with significant reductions in the frequency and severity of vasospastic attacks. Nifedipine use is often limited by the appearance of adverse vasodilatory effects such as headache or peripheral edema. The newer second-generation dihydropyridines such as amlodipine, isradipine, nicardipine, and felodipine also appear to be effective in patients with RP and may be associated with fewer adverse effects.

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