Diltiazem is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) and prevent chest pain (angina). Lowering high blood pressure helps prevent strokes, heart attacks, and kidney problems. When used regularly, diltiazem can decrease the number and severity of episodes of chest pain from angina. It may help increase your ability to exercise.
Diltiazem is called a calcium channel blocker. It works by relaxing blood vessels in the body and heart so blood can flow more easily. Diltiazem also lowers your heart rate. These effects help the heart work less hard and lower blood pressure.
This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.
Diltiazem may also be used to control your heart rate if you have a fast/irregular heartbeat (such as atrial fibrillation).
How to Use This Medication
Take this medication by mouth with or without food, usually once daily or as directed by your doctor. Swallow the capsules whole. Do not crush or chew the capsules. Doing so can release all of the drug at once and may increase your risk of side effects.
If you have trouble swallowing the capsule, you may open the capsule and carefully sprinkle its contents on a spoonful of soft, cool applesauce just before you take it. Swallow all of the drug/food mixture right away. Do not chew the mixture. Then rinse your mouth and swallow the rinse liquid to make sure that you have swallowed all of the medicine. Do not prepare a supply in advance.
Your doctor may gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully. The dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, and other medications you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, use it at the same time each day. It is important to continue taking this medication even if you feel well. Most people with high blood pressure do not feel sick. For the treatment of high blood pressure, it may take 2 to 4 weeks before you get the full benefit of this drug.
This medication must be taken regularly to prevent angina. It should not be used to treat angina when it occurs. Use other medications (such as nitroglycerin placed under the tongue) to relieve an angina attack as directed by your doctor. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for details.
Tell your doctor if your condition worsens (for example, your chest pain worsens or your routine blood pressure readings increase).