Discharge Instructions: Taking Long-Acting Nitroglycerin

Your doctor 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 medication 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 doctor first.

  • Limit alcohol intake. Too much alcohol can cause dizziness or fainting.

  • Do not take certain drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction at all 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, fainting, heart attack (also known as acute myocardial infarction, or AMI), or 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 doctor if you have any of these side effects. Never stop taking the medicine until your doctor tells you to. Mild side effects include:

  • More gas (flatulence) than normal

  • Bloating

  • Nausea

  • Hair loss

  • Decreased appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

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


When should I call my healthcare provider?

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Severe headache

  • Severe dizziness or fainting

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fast heartbeat (higher than 100 beats per minute)

  • Swollen ankles

  • Weakness

  • Chest pain that lasts for more than a few minutes

  • Chest pain that occurs at rest

  • Increased chest pain