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- Summary
- About nitrates
- Conditions of concern
- Potential side effects
- Drug or other interactions
- Lifestyle considerations
- Other precautions
- Symptoms of overdose
- Pregnancy use issues
- Child use issues
- Elderly use issues
- Questions for your doctor

Reviewed By:
Sumit Verma, M.D., FACC
Abdou Elhendy, MD, PhD, FACC, FAHA
Robert I. Hamby, M.D., FACC, FACP


Nitrates are medications that have been used in the treatment of heart conditions for more than 100 years. They are commonly used in the prevention and relief of a type of chest pain, pressure or discomfort called angina. Angina occurs when the heart muscle isn't receiving enough oxygen, usually as a result of coronary artery disease. Nitrates may also be prescribed during a heart attack, in the management of heart failure, or after a catheter-based procedure such as angioplasty and/or stenting. One of the main ways nitrates work is by dilating blood vessels, thus increasing the amount of blood that can flow through the vessel.


There are special precautions that must be taken when storing and using nitrates, and people must follow all of their physician’s orders carefully. People using nitrates for a long period of time are urged not to stop taking them abruptly because this action could cause withdrawal symptoms. Pregnant women are generally advised to avoid taking nitrates.

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Review Date: 04-08-2007

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