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Discharge Instructions: Taking Nitrates

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.

The name of your nitrate is   ____________________________________________

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 Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra (medicines used to treat impotence) at all. 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.

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 medicine

  • 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 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


Online Medical Reviewer: Kolbus, Karin, RN, DNP, COHN-S
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 2/25/2014
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