Verapamil Side Effects: Misconceptions and Real Issues

Should you be concerned about verapamil side effects?  There are actually a few misconceptions out there, but there are also some valid concerns that we'll talk about.

Verapamil is a very common medication which is used to treat high blood pressure, migraine, cluster headache, and other issues.  It's of the calcium channel blocker type, and so for migraine is commonly used as a preventative medication.

But as with any medication, we have to ask - are the benefits worth dealing with the side effects of verapamil?  First, let's look at some misconceptions.

Verapamil side effects: Common Misconceptions

Knowing that verapamil is used to treat high blood pressure, some people are concerned that it will cause low blood pressure if their blood pressure is already low or even normal.  Are you going to have to be constantly checking your blood pressure to make sure it hasn't dropped too far?

In most cases, this fear is unfounded.  Verapamil shouldn't make your blood pressure drop too low.  However, you need to make sure your doctor is aware of your medical history, and all other medications you're taking.  Also, if you do experience major light headedness when you stand up, tell your doctor.  That could be a sign your blood pressure is getting low.

But what about the fact that verapamil is a "calcium channel blocker"?  Are the side effects of verapamil going to be less calcium - maybe osteoporosis?

No, problems with calcium aren't a common concern.  There's no need to take a calcium supplement because you're taking this medication - in fact, calcium supplements may interfere with the usefulness of your medication.  Talk to your doctor!

Common Verapamil Side Effects

One reason why verapamil is a commonly prescribed medication is because it's generally tolerated very well.  Assuming your doctor knows your medical history, and the other medications and supplements you're taking, she has probably prescribed it because she feels the risks are worth it.  Hopefully you won't experience any problems.

The most common side effects that people do experience tend to be:

  • constipation
  • tiredness or weakness
  • swelling of legs, feet or ankles
  • light headedness or dizziness
  • nausea and headache
  • breathing problems (ie coughing or wheezing)
There are a few more serious, though uncommon, side effect.  Talk to your doctor right away if you experience any of these:
  • fast of slow heart beats
  • feeling like you might pass out or fainting
  • fever or rash
  • chest pain
Thankfully, verapamil side effects are usually mild.  Do talk to your doctor before changing your verapamil dosage, or before stopping the medication.

Find out more about verapamil side effects at MedlinePlus.

Remember, this article is for your information - it's purpose is to better inform you as you work with your doctor, not to replace a doctor's visit.

References:  The Pill Book (May 2008); Medline Plus article on Verapamil (revised August 2009); Headache and Your Child by Seymour Diamond MD and Amy Diamond; Migraine and Other Headaches by William B Young MD and Stephen D Silberstein MD; Calcium channel blockers for migraine prevention by Mayo Clinic Staff (19 Feb 2008); Calcium Channel Blocking Agents AKA Calcium Channel Blockers, CCB's; Preventive Headache Measures at a Quick Glance by Val South, RN, World Headache Alliance; Heal Your Headache by David Buchholz MD; The Migraine Brain by Carolyn Bernstein MD

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