Verapamil helps to keep your blood pressure under control. Verapamil relaxes your blood vessels and this helps to lower your blood pressure. It may be used on its own or together with other medicines.
Verapamil is also used to manage other conditions such as arrhythmia (irregular or abnormal heartbeat) and chest pain.
Take Verapamil exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not take more or less than instructed by your doctor.
Take Verapamil with food to minimise any stomach discomfort that it may cause. Try to take it at the same time each day.
If you are taking the sustained-release caplet (usually labelled as "SR"), swallow it whole. Do not chew or crush it.
Verapamil must be taken regularly for it to work well. Continue taking Verapamil even when you feel better. Do not stop taking Verapamil unless instructed by your doctor.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your normal schedule.
DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.
If you often forget to take your medicine, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
Alert your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- heart rhythm disorder and not using a pacemaker e.g. sick sinus syndrome, second or third degree heart block
- heart failure
- slow heart rate
- low blood pressure
as Verapamil may not be suitable for you.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- liver disease
- kidney disease
- nerve-muscle disorders e.g. myasthenia gravis, Lambert-Eaton syndrome
- narrowing of the bowels
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
With the "SR" type of Verapamil, you may see a small tablet-shaped casing in your stool. This is normal; do not be alarmed. This casing is just an empty shell; the medicine inside it has already been absorbed by your body.
If you are going for an operation, including minor surgery and dental work, inform your doctor or dentist that you are taking Verapamil.
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your blood pressure may rise to unsafe levels without you noticing it. Your heart condition may also change without you noticing it. Your doctor needs to monitor you and check your response to the medication regularly.
What lifestyle changes can I make to improve my blood pressure or heart condition?
Regular exercise and eating a healthy diet will help lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health. Engage in physical activity (e.g. walking) at least 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week. If you have not exercised for a long time, start with light exercises such as slow walks. Speak to your doctor about what type of exercise would be suitable for you. Follow a healthy diet plan by eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products and reduce your intake of foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Cutting down on deep-fried foods and using less salt when cooking can kick-start your healthy diet.
If you smoke, you should try to quit. Smoking is harmful to your blood pressure, heart and overall health. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about ways to kick your smoking habit.
One common side effect of Verapamil is constipation. This can be relieved with medicines such as laxatives and adequate fluid intake.
Verapamil may cause dizziness and tiredness. If affected, do not drive or take part in any activity in which you need to be alert. You may feel dizzy when getting up from a sitting or lying down position. It will help if you get up slowly.
Verapamil may also cause any of the following side effects: nausea, headache, flushing, swelling of the ankles, feet or hand and gum swelling. To reduce swelling in the ankles or feet, elevate your legs by putting a pillow under your feet when lying down. To minimise gum swelling, observe good oral hygiene by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth.
Some side effects may be serious, although they are not common. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience:
- unusually slow, fast or irregular heartbeat
- worsening chest pain
- rashes with skin peeling or blisters
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any of these medicines:
- other medicines for high blood pressure or heart disease e.g. atenolol, propranolol, prazosin, digoxin, amiodarone
- cholesterol-lowering medicine e.g. simvastatin, lovastatin
- medicines to treat fungal infection e.g. itraconazole, ketoconazole
- medicines for HIV infection e.g. ritonavir
- antibiotics e.g. erythromycin, clarithromycin
- medicine for epilepsy (fits) e.g. carbamazepine, phenytoin
- ciclosporin (medicine used in organ transplant or certain immune disorders)
- cimetidine (gastric medicine)
- rifampicin (medicine to treat TB - lung infection known as tuberculosis)
- theophylline (medicine for asthma)
- lithium (medicine for mood)
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Verapamil.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicine, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Avoid alcohol and grapefruit juice.
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.