Drugs Home > What Are Nitroglycerin Tablets Used For?

Nitroglycerin tablets are prescribed for relieving chest pain (angina). This medication is specifically designed to treat angina attacks associated with coronary artery disease. A person can also use nitroglycerin tablets before certain activities that are expected to cause chest pain. The tablets are only approved for use in adults, and there are currently no "off-label" uses.

An Overview of Uses for Nitroglycerin Tablets

The nitroglycerin tablet (Nitrostat®) is a prescription drug approved for treating attacks of angina pectoris associated with coronary artery disease. This means that this drug is approved to relieve episodes of chest pain caused by coronary artery disease (also known as coronary heart disease), a condition in which the small blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart become too narrow to adequately supply the heart with enough blood and oxygen.
Nitroglycerin tablets are also approved for use just before activities that will likely result in chest pain. Typically, these activities involve physical exertion, such as exercise or sexual intercourse.
This angina medicine is used by dissolving a tablet under the tongue or between the gums and cheek. If your chest pain does not subside after taking 3 tablets within 15 minutes (5 minutes apart), it is time to seek immediate medical attention, as you may be having a heart attack.
Nitroglycerin tablets do not work long enough to prevent future angina attacks. If you find that you are having frequent attacks, talk with your healthcare provider about a longer-acting form of nitroglycerin or another form of treatment that is more appropriate for such situations.

How Does This Medicine Work?

Nitroglycerin tablets work by relaxing the veins and arteries in the body. With the arteries and veins relaxed, the heart does not need to work so hard and does not require as much oxygen. Because angina is usually caused when there is not enough oxygen to meet the heart's needs, using nitroglycerin tablets can help relieve angina attacks.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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