Questions about Atrial Fibrillation? Get answers from our expert.

Nitroglycerin

Pronunciation

Generic Name: nitroglycerin (NYE-troe-GLIS-er-in)
Brand Name: Generic only. No brands available.

Nitroglycerin is used for:

Treating high blood pressure during surgery, controlling congestive heart failure associated with heart attack, treating chest pain in certain patients, and lowering blood pressure during surgery.

Nitroglycerin is a nitrate. It works by relaxing (widening) blood vessels. Chest pain occurs when the heart needs more oxygen than it can get. Relaxing blood vessels allows blood to flow more easily. This reduces the heart's workload and the amount of oxygen needed by the heart.

Do NOT use nitroglycerin if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in nitroglycerin
  • you have had a stroke or other bleeding in the brain, swelling of the sac surrounding the heart, or interference of blood returning to the heart
  • you are taking a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (eg, sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil)

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using nitroglycerin:

Some medical conditions may interact with nitroglycerin. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you drink alcoholic beverages
  • if you have a history of other heart problems (eg, heart failure, enlarged heart, heart attack), overactive thyroid, stroke or other bleeding in the brain, or recent head injury
  • if you have anemia, low blood pressure, dehydration, or low blood volume

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with nitroglycerin. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Beta-blockers (eg, propranolol), calcium channel blockers (eg, diltiazem), diuretics (eg, furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide), medicines for high blood pressure, phenothiazines (eg, thioridazine), or phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (eg, sildenafil) because the risk of low blood pressure and dizziness on standing may be increased
  • Salicylates (eg, aspirin) because they may increase the risk of nitroglycerin's side effects
  • Long-acting nitrates (eg, nitroglycerin patch) because they may decrease nitroglycerin's effectiveness
  • Alteplase because it may decrease nitroglycerin's effectiveness
  • Heparin because its effectiveness may be decreased by nitroglycerin

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if nitroglycerin may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use nitroglycerin:

Use nitroglycerin as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Nitroglycerin is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you will be using nitroglycerin at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use nitroglycerin. Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
  • Nitroglycerin must be mixed only in glass containers and administered with the set provided. Do not mix with other medicines.
  • Nitroglycerin is not for direct injection but must be diluted before use in either dextrose 5% or sodium chloride 0.9% for injection.
  • If you miss a dose of nitroglycerin, contact your doctor right away.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use nitroglycerin.

Important safety information:

  • Nitroglycerin may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or blurred vision. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use nitroglycerin with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Do not drink alcohol while you are using nitroglycerin. Alcohol toxicity has occurred in patients on high-dose intravenous injection. Certain medicines (eg, disulfiram, cephalosporins, furazolidone, metronidazole, monoamine oxidase inhibitors [MAOIs]) may increase the risk of alcohol toxicity if you drink alcohol while using nitroglycerin.
  • Check with your doctor before you drink alcohol while you are using nitroglycerin. Drinking alcohol may increase the risk of low blood pressure with nitroglycerin.
  • Nitroglycerin may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting. Sit down while taking nitroglycerin to avoid falling caused by lightheadedness or dizziness.
  • Contact your doctor right away if you develop slow heartbeat or new or worsening chest pain after you take nitroglycerin.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take nitroglycerin before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Nitroglycerin contains propylene glycol, which may interfere with some triglyceride tests.
  • Lab tests, including heart function, blood pressure, and blood electrolyte levels, may be performed while you use nitroglycerin. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use nitroglycerin with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Nitroglycerin is not recommended for use in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using nitroglycerin while you are pregnant. It is not known if nitroglycerin is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you are using nitroglycerin, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.

When used for long periods of time without a break, nitroglycerin may not work as well. This is known as TOLERANCE. Increasing the dose is not effective in managing tolerance to nitroglycerin. Tolerance to other nitrates or nitrites may also occur. Be sure to have a "nitrate-free" period of time each day to help prevent this tolerance. Talk with your doctor if nitroglycerin stops working well. Do not take more than prescribed.

Some people who use nitroglycerin for a long time without a break may develop a physical need to continue taking it. This is known as physical DEPENDENCE. If you use nitroglycerin without a break and then suddenly stop using it, you may get WITHDRAWAL symptoms. These may include chest pain, heart attack, or possibly sudden death. Be sure to have a "nitrate-free" period of time each day; this may help prevent dependence and withdrawal problems.

Possible side effects of nitroglycerin:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting when sitting up or standing; flushing of face and neck; headache; irritation at the injection site; nausea; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); blurred vision; dry mouth; fainting; flushing; heavy sweating; irregular heartbeat; new or worsening chest pain; pale skin; pounding in the chest; rapid heartbeat; severe dizziness or headache; severe or persistent nausea or vomiting; shortness of breath; slow heartbeat; swelling of the hands, ankles, or feet; unusual weakness.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include cold or blue skin; confusion; diarrhea; excessive sweating; fainting; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; persistent throbbing headache; seizures; trouble breathing; vision problems.

Proper storage of nitroglycerin:

Store nitroglycerin at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep nitroglycerin out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about nitroglycerin, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Nitroglycerin is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take nitroglycerin or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about nitroglycerin. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to nitroglycerin. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using nitroglycerin.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

Hide
(web3)
Close