Nifedipine

Sounds like 'nye-FED-i-peen'

Easy-to-read medicine information about nifedipine – what it is, how to take nifedipine safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Antihypertensive (to lower blood pressure)
  • Used to prevent chest pain (angina)
  • Belongs to a group of medicines called calcium channel blockers
  • Adalat®
  • Nyefax Retard®
  • Adefin XL®
  • Adalat Oros®

What is nifedipine?

Nifedipine is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) and to prevent angina (chest pain). It may help to increase your ability to exercise and decrease how often you get chest pain. It works by relaxing your blood vessels so blood can flow more easily, and in this way lowers your blood pressure. Nifedipine has also been used to treat Raynaud's syndrome, which is caused by poor circulation to the hands and feet. In New Zealand, nifedipine is available as slow release tablets, in different strengths (10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg and 60 mg).  

Dose

  • The dose of nifedipine will be different for different people. Your doctor will tell you which dose is right for you.  
  • Always take your nifedipine exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much nifedipine to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take nifedipine

  • Nifedipine tablets are usually taken once or two times a day.
  • Try taking your nifedipine dose at the same times each day.
  • Swallow your tablet whole with a glass of water. Do not break, crush or chew the tablets, as this releases all the medicine at once and increases your chance of side effects.
  • You can take nifedipine with or without food.
  • Limit or avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking nifedipine. It may increase your chance of side effects such as feeling dizzy.
  • If you forget your dose, take it as soon as you remember. But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • Do not stop taking nifedipine suddenly; speak to your doctor or nurse before stopping.
  • Nifedipine tablets are available in different strengths. If your tablets look different to your last supply speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Precautions – before taking nifedipine

  • Do you have problems with your liver?
  • Do you have heart problems such as heart failure or have you had a heart attack recently?
  • Do you have diabetes?
  • Are you pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding?
  • Are you taking any other medicines? This includes any medicines you buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.

If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start nifedipine. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines nifedipine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Feeling flushed (red in the face)
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • These are quite common when you first start taking nifedipine and usually go away after the first few days
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Feeling faint when you stand up
  • Be careful when getting up from either lying down or sitting to avoid falls. These effects put you at risk of falls and injuries, especially if you are elderly
  • Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you
  • Avoid drinking alcohol
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Swollen ankles or feet
  • Tell your doctor
  • Changes in your heartbeat (either too fast or irregular)
  • Tell your doctor
  • Worsening chest pain, shortness of breath, pain in the chest
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116

Interactions

Nifedipine may interact with a few medications and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting nifedipine or before starting any new medicines, including those you may buy over the counter.

Learn more

The following links have more information on nifedipine.

Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet:
Adalat
Adefin XL
Nyefax Retard

New Zealand Formulary Patient Information: Nifedipine

References

  1. Nifedipine New Zealand Formulary
  2. Medical management of stable angina pectoris BPAC, 2011
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 15 Nov 2018