1. About lercanidipine
2. Key facts
- Lercanidipine lowers your blood pressure and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood around your body.
- It's usual to take lercanidipine once a day. You can take it at any time of day, but try to make sure it's around the same time each day.
- It's best to take lercanidipine on an empty stomach. Fatty food can increase the amount of lercanidipine your body takes in and make you more likely to have side effects.
- Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you're taking lercanidipine. It can make side effects worse.
- Lercanidipine is also called by the brand name Zanidip.
3. Who can and cannot take lercanidipine
Lercanidipine can be taken by adults aged 18 and over.
Lercanidipine is not suitable for some people.
Tell your doctor before starting lercanidipine if you:
4. How and when to take it
Always take lercanidipine exactly as your doctor has told you, and follow the directions on the label. If you're not sure, check with your doctor or pharmacist.
It's usual to take lercanidipine once a day. You can take lercanidipine at any time of day, but try to make sure it's around the same time every day. Most people take it in the morning.
How much to take
Lercanidipine comes as 10mg and 20mg tablets.
The usual starting dose of lercanidipine is 10mg once a day.
If this dose isn't working well enough (your blood pressure stays too high), you may need to increase your dose to 20mg once a day. Your doctor will tell you if you need to do this.
How to take it
Take lercanidipine on an empty stomach, at least 15 minutes before a meal. This is because fatty food can increase the amount of lercanidipine your body takes in and make you more likely to have side effects.
Swallow lercanidipine tablets whole with a drink of water.
Some brands have a score line to help you break the tablet to make it easier to swallow. Check the information leaflet for your brand to see if you can do this.
Do not eat or drink lots of grapefruit or grapefruit juice while you're taking this medicine. Grapefruit can increase the concentration of lercanidipine in your body and worsen side effects.
Take lercanidipine even if you feel well, as you'll still be getting the benefits of the medicine.
What if I forget to take it?
If you forget to take lercanidipine, take it 15 minutes before your next meal.
If you don't remember until the next day, leave out the missed dose and carry on as normal.
Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten one.
If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you.
You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
What if I take too much?
If you take too much lercanidipine by accident, contact your doctor or nearest hospital straight away.
An overdose of lercanidipine can cause dizziness and sleepiness.
The amount of lercanidipine that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person.
Urgent advice: Call your doctor or go to A&E straight away if you take too much lercanidipine
If you need to go to a A&E, do not drive yourself - get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance.
Take the lercanidipine packet or leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine, with you.
5. Side effects
Like all medicines, lercanidipine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.
Side effects often improve as your body gets used to the medicine.
Common side effects
Common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people. They're usually mild and short-lived.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if the side effects bother you or last for more than a few days.
The most common side effects of lercanidipine are:
- a pounding heartbeat
- swollen ankles
Serious side effects
Serious side effects of lercanidipine are rare and happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people.
Call a doctor straight away if you get chest pain that's new or worse.
This side effect needs to be checked out as chest pain is a possible symptom of a heart attack.
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to lercanidipine.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
- you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- you're wheezing
- you get tightness in the chest or throat
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.
These aren't all the side effects of lercanidipine.
For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.
You can report any suspected side effect using the Yellow Card safety scheme.
6. How to cope with side effects
What to do about:
- headaches - make sure you rest and drink plenty of fluids. Do not drink too much alcohol. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a painkiller. Talk to your doctor if headaches last longer than a week or are severe.
- feeling dizzy - if lercanidipine makes you feel dizzy, stop what you're doing and sit or lie down until you feel better.
- flushing - try cutting down on coffee, tea and alcohol. It might help to keep the room cool and use a fan. You could also spray your face with cool water or sip cold or iced drinks. The flushing should go away after a few days. If it doesn't go away, or if it's causing you problems, contact your doctor.
- a pounding heartbeat - if this happens regularly after you take lercanidipine, try taking it somewhere you can sit or lie down when the symptoms are worse. It may also help to cut down on alcohol, smoking, caffeine and big meals as these can make the effect worse. Speak to your doctor if it lasts more than a week as they may need to change you to a different type of medicine.
- swollen ankles - raise your legs when you're sitting down
These side effects should go away after the first week of taking lercanidipine.
Tell your doctor if they last longer than this or get worse.
7. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Lercanidipine is not normally recommended in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.
If you're trying to get pregnant or already pregnant, talk to your doctor about the benefits and possible harms of taking lercanidipine.
There may be other blood pressure-lowering medicines that are safer for you.
For more information about how lercanidipine can affect you and your baby during pregnancy, read the lercanidipine leaflet on the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website.
Lercanidipine and breastfeeding
Small amounts of lercanidipine may get into breast milk, but it's not known if this is harmful to the baby.
Talk to your doctor, as other blood pressure-lowering medicines might be better while you're breastfeeding.
Non-urgent advice: Tell your doctor if you're:
- trying to get pregnant
8. Cautions with other medicines
This may make you feel dizzy or faint. If this keeps happening to you, tell your doctor as your doses may need to be changed.
Some medicines can interfere with the way lercanidipine works. Lercanidipine can also interfere with the way some other medicines work.
Tell your doctor before taking lercanidipine if you're taking any of these medicines:
- aminophylline or theophylline (medicines to ease breathing)
- the antifungal itraconazole
- the antibiotic erythromycin
- digoxin, a heart medicine
- medicines to treat HIV
- the epilepsy medicines carbamazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital (phenobarbitone) or primidone
- ciclosporin, a medicine to stop your immune system overreacting
Mixing lercanidipine with herbal remedies or supplements
There's very little information about taking herbal remedies and supplements with lercanidipine.
To be safe, speak to your pharmacist or doctor before taking any herbal or alternative remedies with it.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal medicines, vitamins or supplements.
9. Common questions
How does lercanidipine work?
Lercanidipine is a type of medicine called a calcium channel blocker.
Like other calcium channel blockers, lercanidipine works by blocking calcium going into muscles in the heart and blood vessels.
Muscles need calcium to contract, so when you block the calcium, it makes the muscle cells relax.
This lowers your blood pressure and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood around your body.
How long does lercanidipine take to work?
Lercanidipine starts to work on the day you start taking it, but it may take a couple of weeks for full effect.
How long will I take it for?
Usually, treatment with lercanidipine is long term, even for the rest of your life.
Is lercanidipine safe to take for a long time?
Lercanidipine is generally safe to take for a long time.
In fact, it works best when you take it for a long time.
What will happen if I stop taking it?
Talk to your doctor if you want to stop taking lercanidipine.
Stopping lercanidipine may cause your blood pressure to rise, and this may increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
If you're bothered by side effects, your doctor may be able to prescribe you a different blood pressure-lowering medicine.
Can I come off lercanidipine now my blood pressure is lower?
Even if lercanidipine lowers your blood pressure successfully, it's best to carry on taking it.
If you stop taking lercanidipine, your blood pressure could rise back up again.
If you need blood pressure-lowering medicines, you'll probably need to take them for the rest of your life.
Remember, by keeping your blood pressure low, you're protecting yourself against having a heart attack or stroke in the future.
Can I drink alcohol with it?
Drinking alcohol can increase the blood pressure-lowering effect of lercanidipine, which can make you feel sleepy, dizzy or bring on a headache.
If this happens to you, it's best to stop drinking alcohol while you're taking lercanidipine.
Is there any food or drink I need to avoid?
Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice.
This is because grapefruit can increase the concentration of lercanidipine in your body and make side effects worse.
Otherwise, you can eat and drink normally while taking lercanidipine.
Are there similar medicines to lercanidipine?
There are several other calcium channel blockers that work in the same way as lercanidipine.
There are also lots of other types of medicines to lower your blood pressure.
These medicines work in different ways from calcium channel blockers and include:
- ACE inhibitors - for example, ramipril and lisinopril
- angiotensin receptor blockers - for example, candesartan
- beta blockers - for example, bisoprolol
- tablets that make you pee more (diuretics) - for example, bendroflumethiazide
If you can't take lercanidipine or other calcium channel blockers because of side effects, you may be able to switch to another blood pressure-lowering medicine.
Your doctor will advise which one is best for you depending on your age, ethnicity and medical history.
Is lercanidipine addictive?
No, there's no evidence that lercanidipine is addictive.
Will it affect my contraception?
Will it affect my fertility?
There's no firm evidence to suggest that taking lercanidipine will reduce fertility in either men or women.
But there's not enough information available to be able to say for certain whether or not lercanidipine has any effect on fertility.
If you're trying for a baby or are having problems conceiving while on lercanidipine, speak to your doctor.
Can I drive or ride a bike?
Lercanidipine can make some people feel dizzy.
If this happens to you, do not drive a car, ride a bike, or use tools or machinery until you feel better.
Can lifestyle changes help?
You can boost the health of your heart by making some key lifestyle changes.
- quit smoking - smoking increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Quitting smoking brings down your blood pressure and relieves heart failure symptoms. Try to avoid secondhand smoke.
- cut down on alcohol - drinking too much alcohol raises blood pressure over time and also makes heart failure worse. Men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week. A standard glass of wine (175ml) is 2 units. A pint of lager or beer is usually 2 to 3 units of alcohol.
- exercise - regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition. It doesn't need to be too energetic - walking every day is enough.
- eat well - aim to eat a diet that includes plenty of fruit and veg, wholegrains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins. It's a good idea to cut down on salt, too. Eating too much salt is the biggest cause of high blood pressure - the more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure will be. Aim for no more than 6g of salt a day.
- deal with stress - when you're anxious or upset, your heart beats faster, you breathe more heavily, and your blood pressure often goes up. This can make heart failure worse, too. Find ways to reduce stress in your life. To give your heart a rest, try napping or putting your feet up when possible. Spend time with friends and family to be social and help avoid stress.
- vaccinations - if you have heart failure, it's recommended that you have a flu jab every year and a pneumonia vaccination (also called the pneumococcal vaccine) every 5 years. Ask your doctor about these vaccinations. You can have them free on the NHS.