Diltiazem is a prescription medication used to control chest pain and treat high blood pressure. This medication belongs in the calcium-channel blocker drug class. The brand names of diltiazem are Cardizem, Cardizem CD, Cardizem LA, Cartia XT, Dilacor XR, Diltia XT, Dilt-XR, Taztia XT and Tiazac. Like any medication, diltiazem may cause mild to serious side effects.
Diltiazem works by altering the movement of calcium into heart cells and blood vessels, which increases the blood and oxygen supply to the heart by relaxing blood vessels. By relaxing blood vessels, this medication decreases the workload of the heart. It may take up to 14 days before diltiazem begins to control your high blood pressure. This medication, if taken as prescribed, controls chest pain, but you may still have chest pain, and diltiazem cannot stop chest pain if it occurs.
Diltiazem is available in a tablet, an extended-release capsule and an extended-release tablet. This medication should be taken at approximately the same time each day. The extended-release forms of diltiazem should not be chewed or crushed. Your physician may initially prescribe a low dose of this medication and gradually increase the dose to a therapeutic level.
Diltiazem may cause side effects such as flushing, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, sore throat, fever, hoarseness, runny nose, slow heartbeat, sneezing, nasal congestion, constipation and cough. If these side effects become a problem or don't go away, contact your physician for an evaluation.
Serious Side Effects
Diltiazem use can potentially cause serious side effects like an increase in occurrence or severity of chest pain, lack of energy, unusual bleeding or bruising, joint or muscle pain, problems breathing or swallowing and swelling of the lower legs, ankles, feet, arms, hands, tongue, lips, eyes or face. Additionally, diltiazem can cause certain skin reactions with symptoms such as skin rash, itching, red skin lesions that may occur with a purple center, sores, ulcers or white spots on the lips or in the mouth and loosening, peeling or blistering of the skin. These symptoms need to be evaluated by your physician or, if severe, emergency medical services.
Possible liver problems may occur with diltiazem treament. Signs and symptoms of liver problems include pain or tenderness in the upper right part of the stomach, pale stools, loss of appetite, extreme tiredness, dark urine, nausea and yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes.
Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure, also referred to as hypotension, can occur while taking diltiazem. Symptoms can include confusion, blurred vision, severe dizziness, sweating, unusual tiredness or weakness and lightheadedness or faintness with position changes. If you experience these symptoms, contact your physician for advice. Home care for low blood pressure symptoms includes changing positions slowly from lying to sitting to standing.