How Does It Work?
Diltiazem is part of a class of drugs called calcium channel blockers
. It helps to slow down the rate at which calcium
moves into your heart and blood vessel walls. This, in turn, helps to relax the blood vessels, which improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure
. This also makes it easier for the heart to pump blood.
There are two basic types of calcium channel blockers: dihydropyridine and non-dihydropyridine. The most important difference between the two types is that non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers can slow down the heart rate, while dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers do not. Diltiazem is a non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blocker, which means that it can decrease the heart rate. Because of this, it is useful for treating certain types of irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
When and How to Take Diltiazem
Some general considerations for when and how to take the medication include:
- Diltiazem comes in the form of a capsule or tablet. It is taken by mouth, one to four times daily, depending on the particular product.
- You can take most diltiazem products with or without food. However, Dilacor XR, Diltia XT, and Dilt-XR capsules should be taken on an empty stomach. Regular Cardizem tablets (not Cardizem CD or Cardizem LA) should be taken before meals.
- Diltiazem capsules are extended release and should not be crushed or chewed. Be sure to swallow them whole. However, Tiazac and Taztia XT capsules can be opened, and you can sprinkle the contents onto a spoonful of applesauce. The applesauce should not be hot, and you should immediately swallow it whole (without chewing); follow the applesauce with a glass of water.
- Cardizem LA tablets are extended release and should not be cut, crushed, or chewed.
- Diltiazem should be taken at the same time(s) each day to maintain an even level of the drug in your blood.
- For the medicine to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. It will not work if you stop taking it.