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Discharge Instructions: Taking Long-Acting Nitroglycerin

Your healthcare provider prescribed a nitroglycerin for you. Nitroglycerin relieves chest pain caused by a lack of blood to the heart (angina) by getting more oxygen-rich blood to your heart. Long-acting nitroglycerin helps prevent angina. Follow the steps below for taking long-acting nitroglycerin.

The name of my long-acting nitroglycerin medicine is ____________________________________.

Guidelines for use

  • Follow the fact sheet that came with your medicine. It tells you when and how to take your medicine. Ask for a sheet if you didn’t get one.

  • Don’t suddenly stop using nitroglycerin. This could cause an angina attack. If you wish to stop taking your medicine, talk with your provider first.

  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Too much alcohol can cause dizziness or fainting.

  • Don't take certain medicines used to treat erectile dysfunction, such as sildenafil or tadalafil if you use long-acting nitroglycerin. The combination of nitroglycerin with these medicines can cause a severe drop in blood pressure. This can lead to dizziness or fainting. It can raise the risk for heart attack and stroke.

  • To use a nitroglycerin patch:

    • Remove the old patch.

    • Apply a new patch to a clean, dry place on your chest or upper arm.

    • Pick a new place each time you put on a new patch.

    • Don’t apply a patch where your skin is hairy, cut, irritated, scarred, or tattooed.

  • To use a nitroglycerin tablet or capsule:

    • Take the tablet or capsule 60 minutes before or 2 hours after eating.

    • Swallow the pill with a glass of water.

    • Don’t break, chew, or crush the tablet or capsule.

  • To use a nitroglycerin ointment:

    • Measure the prescribed amount of ointment onto the paper that comes with it.

    • Tape the paper in place with skin tape for as long as instructed, then remove it.

    • Use a new spot each time you apply the ointment.

Possible side effects

Tell your provider if you have any of these side effects. Never stop taking the medicine until your provider tells you to. Mild side effects include:

  • More gas (flatulence) than normal

  • Bloating

  • Nausea

  • Decreased appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Flushing (redness of the face, neck, or chest)

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Chest pain that lasts for more than a few minutes

  • Chest pain that occurs at rest

  • Increased or unusual chest pain

  • Severe headache

  • Severe dizziness or fainting

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of the following occur:

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fast heartbeat (higher than 100 beats per minute)

  • Swollen ankles

  • Weakness

Online Medical Reviewer: Callie Tayrien RN MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Steven Kang MD
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2022
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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