Long-acting nitrates

Long-acting nitrates are used to help prevent angina.

Types of long-acting nitrates

  • isosorbide mononitrate e.g. Ismo 20, Ismo 40 Retard,  Duride
  • glyceryl trinitrate patches

What can they do for me?

These medications help to give you more time without angina by lowering the frequency of angina episodes. They can also help you to be able to do more exercise, before having an episode of angina. Some people may need more than one medication to achieve these benefits, including beta blockers and calcium channel blockers.

How do they work?

Nitrates cause the blood vessels to relax, making them wider and letting more blood pass through to the heart. 

What's the catch?

Long-acting nitrates can cause unwanted side effects such as:

  • headaches
  • flushing
  • dizziness

These unwanted side effects should go away within the first two weeks of starting this medication. If you do experience any of these unwanted side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about them as they may be able to help.

What should I look out for?

Long-acting nitrates won't help to relieve acute angina symptoms or chest pain. Although they work in a similar way to Glyceryl Trinitrate (GTN) sprays or tablets, they are designed to work over a longer period of time. It is important not to take more than prescribed.

Long-acting nitrates interact badly with medications for erectile dysfunction. These must not be used if you are taking nitrates, so check with your doctor.

Related treatments and conditions

Angina

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