Medically reviewed on December 15, 2017
What is nitroprusside?
Nitroprusside is a vasodilator that works by relaxing the muscles in your blood vessels to help them dilate (widen). This lowers blood pressure and allows blood to flow more easily through your veins and arteries.
Nitroprusside may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.
You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to nitroprusside, or if you have hereditary vision loss (Leber's disease), vision problems caused by smoking, or a history of blood clot in your brain.
Before receiving nitroprusside, tell your doctor if you have high blood pressure, kidney or liver disease, anemia (a lack of red blood cells), a seizure disorder, or a history of head injury or brain tumor.
In an emergency situation it may not be possible before you are treated to tell your caregivers about your health conditions or if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Make sure any doctor caring for you afterward knows that you have received this medication.
Tell your caregivers right away if you have a serious side effect such as breathing problems, tremors or twitching, numbness or cold feeling in your arms and legs, confusion, ringing in your ears, or feeling like you might pass out.
Before taking this medicine
You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to nitroprusside, or if you have:
hereditary vision loss (Leber's disease);
vision problems caused by smoking; or
a history of blood clot in your brain.
If possible before you receive nitroprusside, tell your doctor if you have:
high blood pressure (hypertension);
anemia (a lack of red blood cells);
epilepsy or other seizure disorder; or
a history of head injury or brain tumor.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether nitroprusside will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.
It is not known whether nitroprusside passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
In an emergency situation, it may not be possible before you are treated with nitroprusside to tell your caregivers if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Make sure any doctor caring for your pregnancy or your baby knows you have received this medication.
How is nitroprusside given?
Nitroprusside is injected into a vein through an infusion pump. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting.
Nitroprusside is usually given for as long as needed until your body responds to the medication.
Your breathing, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and other vital signs will be watched closely while you are receiving nitroprusside. Your blood and urine may also need to be tested during treatment.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Since nitroprusside is given as needed by a healthcare professional, you are not likely to miss a dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Tell your caregivers at once if you think you have received too much of nitroprusside. Overdose symptoms may include extreme dizziness, nausea and vomiting, muscle twitching, rapid breathing, fast or pounding heartbeat, and feeling like you might pass out.
What should I avoid after receiving nitroprusside?
Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, activity, or other medications.
Nitroprusside side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Tell your caregivers at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
feeling like you might pass out, even while lying down;
gasping, struggling to breathe, or shallow breathing;
confusion, ringing in your ears;
fast, slow, or uneven heart rate;
numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs; or
chills, sweating, tremors, twitching, overactive reflexes.
Less serious side effects may include:
mild skin rash;
mild stomach pain or nausea;
warmth, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin;
darkening or deeper color of veins through your skin; or
irritation around the IV needle.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Nitroprusside dosing information
Usual Adult Dose for Hypertensive Emergency:
Initial dose: 0.3 mcg/kg/min IBW administered by continuous IV infusion.
Maintenance dose: The dose may be titrated upward to a maximum of 10 mcg/kg/min IBW.
Usual Adult Dose for Congestive Heart Failure:
Initial dose: 10 to 15 mcg/min administered by continuous IV infusion.
Maintenance dose: The dose may be titrated to 10 to 200 mcg/min.
Maximum dose: 280 mcg/min (4 mcg/kg/min).
What other drugs will affect nitroprusside?
Tell your doctor if you take any type of blood pressure medication.
There may be other drugs that can interact with nitroprusside. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.03.
More about nitroprusside
- Nitroprusside Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
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- Drug class: agents for hypertensive emergencies