Also Known As: Verapamil, Calan, Verelan, Bosoptin, Isoptin, Covera-HS
Verapamil (brand names: Isoptin, Verelan, Verelan PM, Calan, Bosoptin, Covera-HS) is an L-type calcium channel blocker of the phenylalkylamine class. It has been used in the treatment of hypertension, angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmia, and most recently, cluster headaches. It is also an effective preventive medication for migraine. Verapamil has also been used as a vasodilator during cryopreservation of blood vessels. It is a class IV antiarrhythmic, more effective than digoxin in controlling ventricular rate and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March 1982.
Verapamil's mechanism in all cases is to block voltage-dependent calcium channels.
In cardiac pharmacology, calcium channel blockers are considered class IV antiarrhythmic agents. Since calcium channels are especially concentrated in the sinoatrial and atrio-ventricular nodes, these agents can be used to decrease impulse conduction through the AV node, thus protecting the ventricles from atrial tachyarrhythmias.
Calcium channels are also present in the smooth muscle that lines blood vessels. By relaxing the tone of this smooth muscle, calcium-channel blockers dilate the blood vessels. This has led to their use in treating hypertension and angina pectoris.
The pain of angina is caused by a deficit in oxygen supply to the heart. Calcium channel blockers like Verapamil will dilate blood vessels, which increases the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. This controls chest pain, but only when used regularly. It does not stop chest pain once it starts. A more powerful vasodilator such as glyceryl trinitrate may be needed to control pain once it starts.
Verapamil is also used intra-arterially to treat cerebral vasospasm. Verapamil has been used to treat cluster headaches, but it can also cause headaches as a side effect.