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Generic name: nitroprusside [ nye-troe-PRUS-ide ]
Brand names: Nipride RTU, Nitropress
Dosage form: intravenous solution (20 mg/100 mL-NaCl 0.9%; 25 mg/mL)
Drug classes: Agents for hypertensive emergencies, Vasodilators

Medically reviewed by on Jul 8, 2021. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is nitroprusside?

Nitroprusside is a vasodilator that is used to treat congestive heart failure and life-threatening high blood pressure (hypertensive crisis).

Nitroprusside is also used to control blood pressure during a surgery.

Nitroprusside may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.


Nitroprusside is given by a healthcare provider. Your vital signs will be watched closely while you are receiving nitroprusside.

Before taking this medicine

You should not be treated with nitroprusside if you are allergic to it, 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 during an emergency, tell your caregivers if you've ever had:

If possible during an emergency, tell your caregivers if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How is nitroprusside given?

Nitroprusside is injected into a vein through an infusion pump. A healthcare provider will give you this injection in a medical setting.

For hypertensive crisis, nitroprusside is usually given only until you are able to take a longer-acting medicine to lower your blood pressure.

Your breathing, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and other vital signs will be watched closely.

Your blood will also be tested to make sure nitroprusside is not causing harmful effects.

What happens if I miss a dose?

In a medical setting you are not likely to miss a dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Overdose may cause confusion, weakness, severe dizziness, seizure, or fainting. In a medical setting an overdose would be treated quickly.

What should I avoid after receiving nitroprusside?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Nitroprusside side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Tell your caregivers right away if you have:

  • a light-headed feeling, even while lying down;

  • chest pain, severe shortness or breath;

  • pounding heartbeats, sweating;

  • a restless or uneasy feeling, or if you feel very weak or tired;

  • stomach pain, nausea, vomiting;

  • headache, confusion, ringing in your ears;

  • muscle pain or twitching, problems with muscle movement;

  • a numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs; or

  • blue colored lips, fingers, or toes.

Common side effects of nitroprusside may include:

  • flushing (sudden warmth, redness, or tingly feeling); or

  • bruising 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.

What other drugs will affect nitroprusside?

Tell your doctor if you take any type of blood pressure medication.

Other drugs may affect nitroprusside, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use.

Further information

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.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.