How can I safely take nitrate medication?

Audrey K. Chun, MD
Geriatric Medicine
Always sit when you're taking fast-acting nitroglycerin, as your blood pressure can drop, making you lightheaded and at risk of falls. Avoid taking nitrates if you're taking drugs for erectile dysfunction, such as sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis), as you can suffer major cardiovascular side effects if you combine the drugs. Avoid alcohol when taking nitrates -- it can cause a significant lowering of blood pressure. To keep the medication working, make sure you remove the patch or paste at night, and get 10 to 12 "drug-free" hours daily. Get a new prescription when the pills expire -- expired nitroglycerin pills often do not work.

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