Nicardipine | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

nicardipine, Oral capsule

All Brands

  • Cardene (Discontinued)
A discontinued drug is a drug that has been taken off the market due to safety issues, shortage of raw materials, or low market demand.
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Highlights for nicardipine

Oral capsule
1

Nicardipine is a calcium channel blocker drug. It’s used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure).

2

This drug comes in the form of capsules that you take by mouth. There are two capsule forms: immediate-release and sustained-release. (Sustained-release drugs are released into the bloodstream slowly over time.)

3

Nicardipine is available as the brand-name medications Cardene and Cardene SR. There’s a generic version available of Cardene. There isn’t a generic version available of Cardene SR.

4

The more common side effects of this drug include headache, nausea, dizziness, flushing, or swelling in the legs (edema).

5

If you have angina (chest pain) or heart failure and take this drug, your symptoms of these conditions may get worse.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Low blood pressure

This drug can cause low blood pressure and related symptoms, such as dizziness. This occurs more often when the drug is first started, or the dose is being increased. Your doctor should carefully monitor your blood pressure when you start this medication, or when your dose is increased.

What is nicardipine?

Nicardipine is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of a capsule that you take by mouth.

Nicardipine is available as the brand-name medications Cardene and Cardene SR (sustained-release). Cardene is available as a generic drug. Cardene SR is not. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your doctor to see if the generic version will work for you.

Nicardipine may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other drugs that reduce blood pressure. These may include beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, or diuretics.

Why it's used

Nicardipine is used to treat high blood pressure. Reducing high blood pressure can help prevent heart attack and stroke.

How it works

Nicardipine belongs to a class of drugs called calcium channel blockers.

More Details

How it works

Nicardipine belongs to a class of drugs called calcium channel blockers. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Nicardipine works by relaxing the blood vessels in your heart and body. It also lowers your heart rate. This means that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body. This helps lower your blood pressure.

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nicardipine Side Effects

Oral capsule

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects that can occur with use of nicardipine include:

  • swelling in the legs and feet (edema)

  • headache

  • flushing (reddening of the skin)

  • irregular heartbeat (palpitations)

  • nausea

  • dizziness

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • worsening chest pain (angina)

  • trouble breathing

  • swelling of your throat or tongue

  • hives

  • slow heart rate

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Mild side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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nicardipine May Interact with Other Medications

Oral capsule

Nicardipine can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Alcohol interaction

Drinking alcohol while taking this drug raises your risk of low blood pressure. The risk is higher when you stand after sitting or lying down.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Immunosuppressants

Cyclosporine is used to suppress the immune system. Taking nicardipine with cyclosporine can increase the level of cyclosporine in your body. This raises your risk of dangerous side effects.

Pain drugs (opioids)

Fentanyl is a type of opioid. Taking nicardipine with fentanyl raises your risk of very low blood pressure. This can cause side effects such as dizziness.

Stomach acid drugs

Cimetidine is used to treat stomach acid problems. When it’s used with nicardipine, it may increase the levels of nicardipine in your body. This raises your risk of side effects from nicardipine.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Nicardipine warnings
angina
People with angina

If you take this drug, your angina symptoms may get worse. These symptoms include chest pain, nausea, tiredness, and dizziness.

heart failure
People with heart failure

If you take this drug, your heart failure symptoms may get worse. This is because nicardipine may make your heart contract with less force as it beats. Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, tiredness, or swelling in your legs or feet.

liver disease
People with liver disease

Nicardipine is broken down and removed by the body through the liver. People who have liver disease may have increased blood levels of the drug and have more side effects, such as very low blood pressure and dizziness. Talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

Nicardipine is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

breast-feeding
Women who are breast-feeding

Nicardipine may pass into breast milk. It could cause serious side effects in a child who is breast-fed. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You should decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this drug.

allergies
Allergies

Nicardipine can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take nicardipine (Dosage)

Oral capsule

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your doctor will tell you what dosage is right for you. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Hypertension

Brand: Cardene SR

Form: Sustained-release oral capsule
Strengths: 30 mg, 45 mg

Brand: Cardene

Form: Immediate-release oral capsule
Strengths: 20 mg, 30 mg

Generic: nicardipine

Form: Immediate-release oral capsule
Strengths: 20 mg, 30 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Cardene SR: The usual starting dose of nicardipine is 30 mg twice per day. Your doctor may change your dose based on how your body responds to the medication. The usual dose range is 30–60 mg twice daily.

Cardene: The usual starting dose of nicardipine is 20 mg, three times per day. Your doctor may change your dose based on how your body responds to the medication. The usual dose range is 20–40 mg three times per day.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This drug hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different medication schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

Kidney disease: You may be started on a lower dose of nicardipine. This drug is removed through your kidneys. Lowering the dose may prevent negative side effects.

Heart failure: If you need an increase in your dose, your doctor may raise it slowly. This can help prevent an increase in the side effects of heart failure.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Nicardipine comes with serious risks if you don't take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don't take it at all

Your blood pressure may increase. This can raise your risk of health problems such as heart attack or stroke.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • low blood pressure
  • slowed heart rate
  • irregular heartbeat
  • flushing (red, warm skin)
  • drowsiness
  • confusion
  • slurred speech

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your blood pressure should go down. Your doctor can check your blood pressure, or you can do it using a home blood pressure monitor.

Nicardipine is used for long-term treatment.

Don’t crush, cut, or chew nicardipine capsules

Doing so can change how the drug is released into your body and may cause side effects.

Store this drug carefully

  • Keep nicardipine at temperatures from 59–86°F (15–30°C).
  • Keep this drug away from light.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you, such as in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Self-management

Your doctor may suggest that you monitor your blood pressure. You can do this using a home blood pressure monitor. Your doctor can tell you where to buy this device and how to use it.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor will monitor you. During treatment, they will check your:

  • blood pressure
  • heart rate

Hidden costs

You may need to buy a blood pressure monitor to check your blood pressure at home. Your doctor can tell you more.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does nicardipine Cost?

Oral capsule

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Lowest price for nicardipine

Walgreens $15.49
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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for nicardipine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for nicardipine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on September 22, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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