Discharge Instructions: Taking Nitrates

Discharge Instructions: Taking Nitrates

The name of your nitrate is:


Your doctor prescribed a nitrate for you. This medicine 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.

Home care

  • Follow the fact sheet that came with your medicine. It tells you when and how to take your medicine. Ask for a sheet if you didn't get one.
  • Keep this medicine with you at all times.
  • Check your supply of nitrates before vacations, holidays, and other events.
  • Don't drive unless you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Don't take certain medicines to treat erectile dysfunction with nitroglycerin. These medicines can react with nitroglycerin and cause your blood pressure to drop to a dangerous or even life-threatening level.
  • Take this medicine while seated. It can cause dizziness.

Possible side effects

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

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Anxiety, nervousness, or trouble sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Flushing
  • Cold, heavy sweating
  • Decreased sex drive

Call 911

Call 911 if you have:

  • Chest pain that lasts longer and occurs more often
  • Chest pain that is not relieved by 3 doses of medicine
  • Chest pain that occurs at rest

When to call your doctor

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

  • Severe headache
  • Vision problems
  • Fainting
  • Muscle spasms
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Fast pulse or pounding heartbeat
  • Fever and chills