Calcium Antagonists in Comparison: View of the Pharmacologist

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A great number of calcium antagonists are available for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Differences in pharmacodynamic and/or pharmacokinetic properties can be used to optimize therapy in patients and to minimize side effects. In contrast to all dihydropyridine (DHP) derivatives, drugs of the verapamil type slow atrioventricular conduction and are widely used for treatment of supraventricular tachycardia. The higher vasoselectivity of new DHP derivatives as compared with nifedipine should be regarded as an advantage for the treatment of patients with impaired left ventricular function. Besides vasodilation, additional effects such as antiatherosclerotic action, amelioration of rheological parameters, bronchial relaxation, or improvement of cerebral capacity in patients with cerebro-organic disorders have been documented for individual drugs. The long plasma half-life of some new calcium antagonists is advantageous with respect to patient compliance. Furthermore, a delayed increase in plasma concentration (high tmax values) is useful to minimize side effects such as reflex tachycardia, flush, headache, and dizziness.

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