Information about Nitroglycerin

Nitroglycerin Uses

Nitroglycerin is used in the treatment of Angina (heart-related chest pain).

How Nitroglycerin works

Nitroglycerin is a nitrate. It works by relaxing the blood vessels which decreases the oxygen demand of the heart and reduces its workload, thereby preventing/treating attacks of angina (chest pain).

Common side effects of Nitroglycerin

Dizziness, Headache, Flushing (sense of warmth in the face, ears, neck and trunk), Orthostatic hypotension (sudden lowering of blood pressure on standing), Tachycardia, Weakness
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MD (Pharmacology), MBBS
Last updated
13 Jun 2023 | 11:29 AM (UTC)

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Expert advice for Nitroglycerin

  • Nitroglycerin may cause dizziness or sleepiness. Do not drive or do anything that requires concentration until you know how it affects you.
  • Do not consume alcohol while taking Nitroglycerin as it may cause increased dizziness.
  • It may cause headaches which usually go away after a few days of continued treatment. Inform your doctor if it persists.
  • You may develop tolerance to Nitroglycerin with time, meaning that the same dose may be less effective next time. Follow the prescribed dosing schedule to avoid this.
  • Stop taking medications (prescribed for erectile dysfunction) like sildenafil or tadalafil while on treatment with Nitroglycerin as it may cause low blood pressure.

Frequently asked questions for Nitroglycerin


Q. Can I take sildenafil if I am taking Nitroglycerin?

No, you should not take sildenafil if you are taking Nitroglycerin. Taking these two medicines together can cause an excessive fall in blood pressure, which may even be life-threatening.

Q. What effect does Nitroglycerin have on blood pressure?

Nitroglycerin slightly decreases the blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels, but is not recommended for the treatment of high blood pressure. The drop in blood pressure may cause lightheadedness, especially when changing your position suddenly. You should avoid sudden change in your position, for eg, get up slowly if you are sitting or lying down, to minimise this side effect.

Q. Does the effect of Nitroglycerin wear off after sometime?

Yes, excessive use of Nitroglycerin may cause tolerance which means that Nitroglycerin may lose its effectiveness on you. Therefore, doctors usually prescribe the smallest dose required for effective relief of acute angina attacks. Also, it is usually prescribed in morning and afternoon doses to give nitrate-free interval. Take it strictly as per the dosing interval prescribed by your doctor to prevent tolerance and maintain the effectiveness of Nitroglycerin.

Q. What does too much Nitroglycerin do?

Excess Nitroglycerin may result in low blood pressure, sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache, weak and fast pulse. It may also cause weakness, lightheadedness on standing and the patient might even faint. The patient will require emergency medical treatment in such a case.

Q. Can I stop using Nitroglycerin as I feel better now?

Treatment of angina (heart-related chest pain) is long-term and may even be life long. Stopping Nitroglycerin suddenly may bring on attacks of angina, especially if you have been using it for several weeks or more. Consult your doctor before stopping this medicine. Your doctor will decide if it needs to be stopped and will reduce the dose gradually over 4 to 6 weeks. You may be prescribed an alternative medication in its place.

Q. Does Nitroglycerin stop heart attacks?

Nitroglycerin is prescribed to prevent attacks of heart-related chest pain (angina) in patients with coronary artery disease. In this disease, the blood vessels (coronary arteries) which supply blood to the heart become narrow because of which the heart has to work harder to get enough oxygen. Nitroglycerin prevents angina by relaxing the blood vessels so that the heart does not have to work very hard. Also, relaxation of coronary arteries increases the oxygen supply to the heart.


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