Researchers at the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, Canada, warn that taking calcium channel blockers (calcium antagonists) along with certain antibiotics could lower blood pressure, and be dangerous to high risk patients.
It’s always wise to keep up with the latest research on drug combinations, since patients seem to be taking more and more medications together. This recent research could impact migraine and cluster headache patients, who often take calcium channel blockers (CCBs) as preventatives.
CCBs that are commonly taken for migraine or cluster include diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor and Taztia), nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia, Nifediac and Nifedical), nimodipine (Nimotop) and verapamil (Calan, Verelan, Covera-HS and Isoptin).
Now CCBs are actually prescribed in order to lower blood pressure. So we’re already aware that this can happen. The concern, however, is that taking the CCB along with certain antibiotics could actually increase the effect to dangerous levels.
The antibiotics we’re talking about are macrolide antibiotics. These antibiotics include erythromycin, clarithromycin, spiramycin, josamycin and azithromycin, and they’re very widely used, with millions of prescriptions being written each month.
The research involved elderly patients only, the ones who would be at the highest risk. Using public health records, the researchers discovered that patients on CCBs who had received the antibiotic erythromycin were six times as likely to be hospitalized for hypotension.
Would the same hold true for younger patients? Likely there will be a drop in blood pressure, though younger patients would be at a lower risk overall. The important thing to remember is that you need to let your doctor know what medications you’re taking. It’s easy to get a quick antibiotic when you’re feeling terrible, not thinking about other conditions that don’t seem to be related.
Being simply a survey of public health records focused on a certain group, more research needs to be done to understand the impact on migraine and cluster headache patients of various ages. In the mean time, this is another reminder that your doctor needs to know if you’re at high risk for other condition, and she needs to know what medications you’re taking.