Discharge Instructions: Taking Nitrates

Discharge Instructions: Taking Nitrates

Your doctor prescribed a nitrate for you. This medication increases the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart and is used to prevent chest pain. The most common nitrate is nitroglycerin. Here are some general guidelines for using nitrates.

The name of your nitrate is   ____________________________________________

Home Care

  • Follow the fact sheet that came with your medication. It tells you when and how to take your medication. Ask for a sheet if you didn’t get one.

  • Keep this medication with you at all times.

  • Check your supply of nitrates before vacations, holidays, and other events.

  • Don’t drive unless you know how this medication affects you.

  • Don’t take Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra (drugs used to treat impotence) at all. These medications can react with nitroglycerin and cause your blood pressure to drop to a dangerous or even life- threatening level.

  • Take this medication while seated. It can cause dizziness.

  • Learn to take your own pulse. Keep a record of your results. Ask your doctor which pulse rates mean that you need medical attention. Slowing your pulse is often the goal of treatment.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain that lasts longer and occurs more often

  • Chest pain that is not relieved by 3 doses of medication

  • Severe headache

  • Vision problems

  • Fainting

  • Muscle spasms

  • Severe nausea and vomiting

  • Fast pulse or pounding heartbeat

  • Fever and chills

Possible Side Effects

Tell your doctor if you have any of these side effects. Don’t stop taking the medication unless your doctor tells you to. Mild side effects include the following:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Headache

  • Anxiety, nervousness, or trouble sleeping

  • Nausea

  • Dry mouth

  • Abdominal pain

  • Loss of appetite

  • Flushing

  • Cold, heavy sweating

  • Decreased sex drive