Norvasc (amlodipine besylate) is a type of medication known as a calcium-channel blocker. They contain compounds known as calcium-channel antagonists which relax blood vessels and decrease blood pressure.1 This makes it easier for your heart to pump blood throughout the body.
As important as the drug is in treating high blood pressure, Norvasc is known to cause side effects. One of the most common is the swelling of the ankles caused by the abnormal accumulation of fluids in tissues.
Edema, or the abnormal swelling of tissues, is a common side effect of this class of medications, especially Norvasc.3 It typically occurs in the ankles and feet due to gravity but can also affect the hands and lower legs. The development of edema is largely dose-dependent, meaning that higher doses confer to the appearance or worsening of symptoms.
Other side effects of Norvasc include headaches, lightheadedness, fainting spells, dizziness, an irregular heartbeat, chest pain, or palpitations.1
Do not stop taking your Norvasc until you speak with your physician. In some cases, you may be placed on a diuretic ("water pill") to reduce the swelling or simply have your dose reduced.4 If symptoms persist, your doctor may opt to switch to an another calcium-channel blocker or other class of medications.
It is important to note that ankle swelling is also a symptom of heart failure and pulmonary hypertension. As such, Norvasc may not be the ultimate cause of edema but instead contribute to its development.
How Heart Failure Is Treated
Norvasc is available in tablet form and formulated in doses of 2.5, 5, and 10 milligrams (mg).5
The standard oral dose 5 mg once daily, increasing to a maximum dose is 10 mg once daily if needed. People who are smaller, fragile, elderly, or have liver problems should be started on a 2.5-mg dose and increase gradually, if needed, to obtain the desired response.
Never exceed the recommended daily dose. You can, in fact, overdose on calcium-channel blockers, leading to potentially serious side effects, such as:
Shortness of breath
Increased blood sugar
If overdose is suspected, call the Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222, available 24 hours sevens days a week. Do not induce vomiting unless a trained poison control professional tells you to do so.
If treatment is delivered in a timely manner, then chances of recovery are good. Nevertheless, survival depends on various factors including the type of medication taken used and the dose. For instance, overdose with verapamil, another type of calcium-channel blocker, is particularly dangerous.6
As with any emergency, time is of the essence, and you should quickly reach out for help as soon as you suspect you need it.
A Word From Verywell
If you're experiencing ankle swelling or any other symptom that are attributable to Norvasc, please contact your physician immediately. Your physician can evaluate your symptoms and dosages as well as make prudent recommendations about continued treatment. Your physician can also make decisions about whether to discontinue or switch medications.
Furthermore, please understand that as a group, calcium-channel blockers can cause severe adverse effects, especially when taken in excess.7 These drugs are particularly potent and affect your heart and blood vessels directly.
If you suspect that you've taken these medications in excess, please contact emergency services immediately. You should also contact Poison Control and your physician and provide them with as much information as needed to facilitate swift treatment.