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All about: Nicardipine hydrochloride

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Generic name: Nicardipine hydrochloride
Brand names: Cardene

Why is Nicardipine hydrochloride prescribed?

Cardene, a type of medication called a calcium channel blocker, is prescribed for the treatment of chronic stable angina (chest pain usually caused by lack of oxygen to the heart resulting from clogged arteries, brought on by exertion) and for high blood pressure. When used to treat angina, Cardene is effective alone or in combination with beta-blocking medications such as Tenormin or Inderal. If it is used to treat high blood pressure, Cardene is effective alone or in combination with other high blood pressure medications. Calcium channel blockers ease the workload of the heart by slowing down its muscle contractions and the passage of nerve impulses through it. This improves blood flow through the heart and throughout the body, reducing blood pressure.

Cardene SR, a long-acting form of the drug, is prescribed only for high blood pressure.

Some doctors also prescribe Cardene to prevent migraine headache and to treat congestive heart failure. In combination with other drugs, such as Amicar, Cardene is also prescribed to manage neurological problems following certain kinds of stroke.

Most important fact about Nicardipine hydrochloride

If you have high blood pressure, you must take Cardene regularly for it to be effective. Since blood pressure declines gradually, it may be several weeks before you get the full benefit of Cardene and you must continue taking it even if you are feeling well. Cardene does not cure high blood pressure; it merely keeps it under control.

How should you take Nicardipine hydrochloride?

Take Nicardipine hydrochloride exactly as prescribed, even if your symptoms have disappeared.

If you are taking Cardene SR, swallow the capsule whole; do not chew, crush, or divide it.

Try not to miss any doses. If Cardene is not taken regularly, your condition may worsen.

--If you miss a dose...

Take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the one you missed and go back to your regular schedule. Do not take 2 doses at the same time.

--Storage instructions...

Store at room temperature, away from light and moisture.

What side effects may occur?

Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Cardene.

  • More common side effects may include:
    Dizziness, flushing, headache, increased chest pain (angina), indigestion, nausea, pounding or rapid heartbeat, sleepiness, swelling of feet, weakness

Why should Nicardipine hydrochloride not be prescribed?

If you have advanced aortic stenosis (a narrowing of the aorta that causes obstruction of blood flow from the heart to the body), you should not take Nicardipine hydrochloride.

If you are sensitive to or have ever had an allergic reaction to Cardene, you should not take Nicardipine hydrochloride. Make sure your doctor is aware of any drug reactions you may have experienced.

Special warnings about Nicardipine hydrochloride

Cardene can reduce or eliminate chest (angina) pain caused by exertion or exercise. Be sure to discuss with your doctor how much exercise or exertion is safe for you.

If you experience increased chest pain when you start taking Cardene or when your dosage is increased, contact your doctor immediately.

Your doctor will monitor your progress especially carefully if you have congestive heart failure, particularly if you are also taking a beta-blocking medication such as Tenormin or Inderal.

Cardene can cause your blood pressure to become too low, making you feel light-headed or faint. Your doctor should check your blood pressure when you start taking Cardene and continue to monitor it while your dosage is being adjusted.

If you have liver disease or decreased liver function, use Nicardipine hydrochloride with caution.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking Nicardipine hydrochloride

If Cardene is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Cardene with the following:

Amiodarone (Cordarone)
Cimetidine (Tagamet)
Cyclosporine (Sandimmune)
Digoxin (Lanoxin)
Phenytoin (Dilantin)
Propranolol (Inderal)

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

The effects of Cardene during pregnancy have not been adequately studied. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, inform your doctor immediately. Cardene may appear in breast milk and could affect a nursing infant. If Nicardipine hydrochloride is essential to your health, your doctor may advise you to discontinue breastfeeding until your treatment with Cardene is finished.

Recommended dosage



Your doctor will adjust the dosage according to your needs, usually beginning with 20 milligrams, 3 times a day. The usual regular dose is 20 to 40 milligrams, 3 times a day. Your physician may monitor your condition for at least 3 days before adjusting your dose.

High Blood Pressure

Your doctor will adjust the dosage to suit your needs. The starting dose of Cardene is usually 20 milligrams 3 times a day. The regular dose ranges from 20 to 40 milligrams 3 times a day.

The starting dose of Cardene SR is usually 30 milligrams 2 times a day. The regular dose ranges from 30 to 60 milligrams 2 times a day.

Your doctor may monitor your response to Nicardipine hydrochloride for a few hours after the first dose, and will check your condition for at least 3 days before adjusting your dose.


The safety and effectiveness of Nicardipine hydrochloride in children under age 18 have not been established.


  • Symptoms of Cardene overdose may include:
    Confusion, drowsiness, severe low blood pressure, slow heartbeat, slurred speech

If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.

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