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Nitrates (vasodilators)

Nitrates are one of a type of drug known as vasodilators, that are used to treat angina in people with coronary artery disease or chest pain caused by blocked blood vessels of the heart. They work to control angina by relaxing the coronary arteries so blood can flow more easily to the heart.  Blood pressure is also lowered by nitrates.

Nitrates can be used with other blood pressure medication to treat congestive heart failure.

Types of nitrates

Nitrates are available in different forms, including tablets, sprays, skin patches and ointments.

Glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) and isosorbide dinitrate are examples of nitrates.

Nitrates side effects and warnings

Side effects of nitrates include headaches, dizziness, feeling faint and flushed skin.

Seek medical advice if you have concerns about side effects. Don’t stop taking medicines without seeking medical advice first.

Nitrates are usually avoided if a person has certain other medical conditions, including very low blood pressure, inherited cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) and aortic stenosis ( heart valve disease).

Always take medicines as advised by the doctor. Make sure the doctor or pharmacist is aware of all your existing conditions and medicines being taken for them, including any supplements and herbal products. This allows them to check for possible interactions with other treatments, such as beta-blockers and antidepressants.

Nitrates may become less effective over time.

Seek medical advice if a dose is missed or an extra dose taken by mistake.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith on October 31, 2012

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