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Generic Name:

nitroglycerin, Sublingual tablet

All Brands

  • Nitrostat
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for nitroglycerin

Sublingual tablet
1

Nitroglycerin is used to stop or prevent angina (chest pain).

2

This drug comes as a tablet that you dissolve under your tongue or inside your cheek. This is called a sublingual tablet. This drug is also available as a spray, aerosol solution, extended-release oral capsule, transdermal patch, and ointment. This drug also has an intravenous (IV) form, which is only given by a healthcare provider.

3

The nitroglycerin sublingual tablet is available as the brand-name drug Nitrostat. It’s also available as a generic drug.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Low blood pressure

This drug may lower your blood pressure. This can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting when you stand up. This is called orthostatic hypotension. It may happen as soon as you take the drug. You should sit down while taking this medication and then stand up slowly. Your doctor may check your blood pressure before and during your treatment with this drug.

What is nitroglycerin?

Nitroglycerin is a prescription drug. It comes as a sublingual tablet. You let it dissolve under your tongue or inside of your cheek. This drug is also available as a spray, aerosol solution, extended-release oral capsule, transdermal patch, and ointment. It has an intravenous (IV) form, which is only given by a healthcare provider.

The sublingual tablet is available as the brand-name drug Nitrostat. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version.

Why it's used

Nitroglycerin is used to treat angina (chest pain). Angina is a pain or discomfort that happens when part of your heart does not get enough blood. It feels like a pressing or squeezing pain. It can happen in your chest, neck, arms (usually the left one), and lower jaw.

How it works

Nitroglycerin belongs to a class of drugs called vasodilators. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

See Details

How it works

Nitroglycerin belongs to a class of drugs called vasodilators. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug works by relaxing the smooth muscle and blood vessels in your body. This increases the amount of blood and oxygen that reaches your heart. In turn, your heart works less hard. This reduces chest pain.

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SECTION 2 of 5

nitroglycerin Side Effects

Sublingual tablet

More common side effects

The more common side effects of nitroglycerin can include:

  • headache

  • dizziness

  • weakness

  • fast heart rate

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • flushing (reddening and warming of your skin)

  • rash

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Low blood pressure. Symptoms can include:

    • dizziness or lightheadedness
    • fainting
    • blurry vision
    • nausea
    • cold and clammy skin
    • fast and shallow breathing
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug can cause dizziness during the first few hours after you take it. You shouldn’t drive or use machinery until you know how this medication affects you.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

nitroglycerin May Interact with Other Medications

Sublingual tablet

Nitroglycerin can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Alcohol interaction

Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of very low blood pressure from this drug. If you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Drugs you should not use with nitroglycerin

Do not take these drugs with nitroglycerin. Doing so can cause dangerous effects in your body. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Sildenafil, tadalafil, and vardenafil
    • Taking any of these drugs with nitroglycerin can cause very low blood pressure.
  • Ergotamine
    • Taking these drugs together can cause more chest pain.

Interactions that can make your drugs less effective

When nitroglycerin is less effective: When you take nitroglycerin with certain drugs, it may not work as well to treat your condition. This is because the amount of nitroglycerin in your body may be decreased. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Drugs used to treat depression such as amitriptyline, desipramine, and doxepin
    • These drugs may cause dry mouth and decrease the amount of saliva your mouth makes. This can make it harder for the tablet to dissolve in your mouth. This means that the drug may not work as well to treat your chest pain.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
heart attack warning
People with a history of heart attack or heart failure

It isn’t known if this drug will help you during a heart attack. A heart attack may cause severe, crushing pain that comes on suddenly. If you have signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away. It also isn’t known if this drug helps people with congestive heart failure. If you use this drug in this situation, it may lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

pregnancy warning
Pregnant women

Nitroglycerin is a category B pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has not shown a risk to the pregnancy when the mother takes the drug.
  2. . There aren’t enough studies done in humans to show if the drug poses a risk to the pregnancy.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Animal studies do not always predict the way humans would respond. Therefore, this drug should be used in pregnancy only if clearly needed.

breast feeding warning
Women who are breast-feeding

Nitroglycerin may pass into breast milk and cause side effects in a child who is breastfed. Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

childrens warning
For children

This medication has not been studied in children. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if:

  • you become pregnant while taking this drug

Call your doctor or 9-1-1 if:

  • you still have pain after taking three doses in a 15-minute period
  • your chest pain is different than normal
  • your pain is more severe
  • the pain travels to your arms, especially if it’s in both arms
  • you have chest pain with sweating, nausea, or vomiting
allergy warning
Allergies

Allergic reactions to nitroglycerin are extremely rare, but they do occur. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or local emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take nitroglycerin (Dosage)

Sublingual tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Angina (chest pain)

Generic: Nitroglycerin

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 0.3 mg, 0.4 mg, 0.6 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)
  • You should use the smallest dose that works to relieve your chest pain. Taking more of this drug than you need can lead to tolerance. This means that, over time, the drug may not work as well to treat your chest pain.
  • Dissolve your dose under your tongue or in your cheek at the first sign of chest pain.
  • You can repeat the dose once every 5 minutes until your chest pain gets better.
  • If you’re still in pain after taking 3 doses in a 15-minute period, call 9-1-1 right away. You should also call 9-1-1 if your chest pain is different from normal.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication has not been studied in children. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Nitroglycerin comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you don’t take it at all

If you don’t take this drug at all, you may have severe chest pain.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

This drug is not meant to be taken on a schedule. Take it only when you have chest pain.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • throbbing headache
  • confusion
  • vision problems, such as trouble seeing, blurry vision, and double vision
  • vomiting
  • shortness of breath
  • cold or clammy skin

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

This drug is not meant to be taken on a schedule. Take it only when you have chest pain.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your chest pain should get better.

Nitroglycerin is used for short-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking this drug

Store this drug carefully

  • Store nitroglycerin at room temperature. Keep it between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C).
  • Keep this drug away from light.
  • Store this drug in the glass bottle it comes in. Close the cap well after each use.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Self-management

To take this drug, place it under your tongue or on the inside of your cheek. Don’t swallow the drug. Instead, let it dissolve. Do not eat or drink anything until the drug has completely dissolved. If you smoke, don’t smoke until the drug has fully dissolved.

Your doctor may have you check your blood pressure and heart rate at home. You may need to buy your own blood pressure monitoring machine to do this. You should keep a log of the date, time of day, and blood pressure readings. Bring this journal with you to your checkups.

Clinical monitoring

You and your doctor should monitor certain health issues while you take this drug. This can help make sure you stay safe during your treatment. These issues include:

  • Blood pressure and heart rate. This drug may lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Your doctor may check your blood pressure and heart rate before and during your treatment. They may also ask you to check your blood pressure and heart rate at home. If your blood pressure and heart rate drop too low, your doctor may reduce your dosage, stop your treatment, or give you a different form of nitroglycerin.

Hidden costs

You may need to purchase a blood pressure monitor to check your blood pressure at home.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does nitroglycerin Cost?

Sublingual tablet

We've partnered with GoodRx so you can compare prices, find discounts and save up to 80% on your next prescription. Check out the low coupon prices below — no insurance required.

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Lowest price for nitroglycerin

Sams Club $10.00
Walmart $20.04
Kroger Pharmacy $20.46
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for nitroglycerin on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for nitroglycerin on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on May 12, 2016

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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