How It Works
Nitrates open up (dilate) the arteries to the heart, increasing blood flow, relieving angina, and reducing the heart's workload.
Why It Is Used
For a heart attack. Nitroglycerin may be used to treat a heart attack, because it can help increase blood flow through the coronary arteries to the heart.
For angina. Nitrates prevent and relieve angina. They may be used:
- During angina attacks.
- Before stressful activities that can cause angina (such as having sexual intercourse or walking up stairs or a hill).
- Over the long term to prevent angina that occurs during daily activities.
How Well It Works
During a heart attack, nitroglycerin may help blood to flow through the coronary arteries to the heart.
For angina, nitrates can quickly relieve the symptoms such as pain or discomfort.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
- Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
- Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
- If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Call911or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Nitroglycerin can help you manage symptoms of angina. Nitroglycerin for angina is taken as a pill or a liquid spray. Skin patches or paste are also available to prevent angina. For more information, see:
Using Nitroglycerin for Angina
Do not take an erection-enhancing medicine such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), or vardenafil (Levitra) if you are taking a nitrate. Combining a nitrate with one of these drugs can cause a life-threatening drop in blood pressure.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Primary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical ReviewerStephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Current as ofAugust 13, 2014