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Calcium channel blockers and leg edema

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    By Hratch L Karamanoukian MD FACS RVT RPVI RPhS DABVLM

    What is the mechanism of action for leg edema in patients who take calcium channel blockers ?

    Calcium channel blockers blunt postural skin vasoconstriction, an autoregulatory mechanism that minimizes gravitational increases in capillary pressure and as such, increasing fluid extravasation when standing. 

    So, the blunting of this response prevents skin capillary vasoconstriction and thus allows tissue swelling. 

    What are some commonly used calcium channel blockers? 

    Amlodipine (Norvasc) 

    Diltiazem (e.g. Tiazac, Cardizem)




    Nifedipine (e.g. Adalat, Procadia)

    Nisoldipine  (e.g. Sular) 

    Verapamil (e.g. Calan, Verelan)