Nitrates for Heart Disease

Medically Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on September 01, 2021
2 min read

If you have angina -- chest pain that happens when the arteries to your heart are blocked or narrowed -- your doctor may prescribe medicines called nitrates. They relax your arteries so blood can flow more easily to your ticker.

Your doctor may also suggest you use nitrates along with another blood pressure drug (hydralazine) to treat congestive heart failure.

Some nitrates include:

Follow the label directions on when and how to take them. It's OK to take these drugs with or without meals.

Sometimes, "medication tolerance" can set in, which means they don't work as well anymore. Keep up with your appointments so your doctor can monitor how well you respond to the drug.

Talk to your doctor to make sure you understand how to take these medications during the day. The number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and how long you need to take them depend on your condition.

While you're using nitrates, get your blood pressure checked regularly.

Nitrates may make you feel dizzy. You may also get a rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat when you take the drugs regularly. It usually gets better after the first few weeks. If it keeps up, talk to your doctor.

Some other side effects are:

  • Headache
  • Flushing of your face or neck. Call your doctor if it persists or is severe.
  • Low blood pressure.

You shouldn't take nitrates if you: