What are nitrates for coronary artery disease?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Nitrate therapy relaxes the coronary arteries. This improves blood flow and relieves angina. Nitroglycerin can be taken under the tongue or sprayed into the mouth. This provides rapid relief of chest pain, but the effect is short-lived. Nitroglycerin is also available in a slow-release skin patch than can be worn all day. Oral long-acting nitrates include isosorbide mononitrate and isosorbide dinitrate. 

Nitrate drugs available in the US include isosorbide (Dilatrate, Isordil) and nitroglycerin (Minitran, Nitro-Dur, Nitrolingual, Nitromist, Nitrostat).

Nitroglycerin or an isosorbide can be taken along with a beta blocker to control angina. They can also be used alone by people who are unable to take beta blockers. 

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