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My doctor didn’t think amlodipine would do that after so much time, but I convinced him I should quit taking the medicine. The swelling has gone down completely now. How common is this side effect?

ANSWER: Amlodipine (Norvasc) is a popular blood pressure pill in the calcium channel blocker category. Women might be more susceptible than men to swelling of the legs and feet due to this medication.

A review of more than 100 studies concluded that the longer people take CCBs, the more likely they are to experience this type of edema (Journal of Hypertension, July 2011). Up to a quarter of patients might eventually develop this complication. We hope your doctor has found a different kind of medication to help you control your blood pressure without unpleasant side effects.

QUESTION: Why don’t you recommend baking soda for heartburn? I haven’t seen it in your columns, but it gives me fast relief with no side effects. I don’t have heartburn every day, but when it hits me at night, I don’t want to suffer for any length of time.

ANSWER: Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an old-fashioned antacid. How old? Some medical historians trace its origins to 3000 BC and the ancient Sumerians. They used burned seaweed containing sodium carbonate to ease indigestion.

Modern baking soda is not derived from plants, though. It is still used for heartburn. The directions on the box recommend ½ teaspoon dissolved in 4 ounces of water. Relief is fast but temporary. People with high blood pressure should be cautious about the sodium content of this home remedy.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. You can email them via their website:

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