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Coronary Heart Disease



Brand Name: Deponit, Minitran, Nitro-Bid, Nitro-Dur, Nitrocine, Nitrocine Timecaps, Nitrodisc, Nitrogard, Nitroglyn, Nitrol, Nitrolingual, Nitrong, NitroQuick, Nitrostat, Transderm-Nitro, Tridil
Drug Class: Nitrate
Available in: Capsules, tablets, ointment, skin patch, aerosol
Available Without a Prescription? No
Available as a Generic? Yes

Side Effects

Serious: Blurred vision, severe or prolonged headache, skin rash, dry mouth. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these side effects.

Common: Flushing of face and neck, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or lightheadedness when getting up, rapid heartbeat, restlessness.

Less Common: Sore, reddened skin.

Principal Uses

To prevent or relieve attacks of angina (chest pain associated with heart disease).

How the Drug Works

Nitroglycerin relaxes the smooth muscle that surrounds the blood vessels and increases the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. It also reduces the heart’s workload and demand for oxygen.


Ointment: 15 to 30 mg applied to skin every 6 to 8 hours. Skin patch: 1 patch applied every day, left on for 12 to 14 hours. Aerosol: 1 or 2 doses on or under the tongue at 5-minute intervals to relieve angina attack. Extended-release capsules: 2.5, 6.5, or 9 mg every 12 hours; can be taken every 8 hours. Extended-release tablets: 1.3, 2.6, or 6.5 mg every 12 hours; can be taken every 8 hours. Sublingual (under tongue) or buccal (inside the cheek) tablets: 0.15 to 0.6 mg repeated at 5-minute intervals to treat angina attack.

If 3 tablets do not relieve pain, call your doctor.

Onset of Effect

Sublingual: 2 to 4 minutes. Buccal: 3 minutes. Oral: 20 to 45 minutes. Ointment and skin patch: 30 minutes.

Duration of Action

Sublingual: 30 to 60 minutes. Buccal: 5 hours. Oral: 8 to 12 hours. Ointment: 4 to 8 hours. Skin patch: Up to 24 hours.

Dietary Advice

Oral forms used as a preventive should be taken 30 minutes before or 1 to 2 hours after meals.


Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

If You Miss a Dose

Take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosage schedule, as prescribed. Do not double the next dose.

Stopping the Drug

The decision to stop taking nitroglycerin should be made by your doctor.

Prolonged Use

You should see your doctor regularly for examinations and tests if you take this medicine for a prolonged period.


Over 60: Adverse reactions may be more likely and more severe in older patients.

Driving and Hazardous Work: Do not drive or engage in hazardous work until you determine how the medicine affects you.

Alcohol: Avoid alcohol.

Pregnancy: Not recommended during pregnancy. Before taking nitroglycerin, be sure to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Breast Feeding: Nitroglycerin may pass into breast milk; caution is advised. Consult your doctor for advice.

Infants and Children: No studies in infants and children have been done.

Special Concerns: Skin patch should be applied to different sites to prevent skin irritation.


Symptoms: Fast heartbeat, red and perspiring skin, headache, dizziness, palpitations, vision disturbances, nausea, vomiting, confusion, difficulty breathing.

What to Do: Call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or the nearest poison control center immediately.

Drug Interactions

Do not take nitroglycerin within 24 hours of taking sildenafil citrate. Sildenafil can enhance the action of nitrates (such as nitroglycerin), causing potentially dangerous decreases in blood pressure.

Consult your doctor for specific advice if you are taking other heart medicines or drugs for hypertension.

Food Interactions

No known food interactions.

Disease Interactions

Consult your physician if you have any of the following: anemia, glaucoma, a recent head injury or stroke, a recent heart attack, or an overactive thyroid. Use of nitroglycerin may cause complications in patients with severe liver or kidney disease, since these organs work together to remove the medication from the body.


From The Johns Hopkins Consumer Guide to Drugs. You can order this book now on our secure server.


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