Nitroglycerin ointment is used to prevent episodes of angina (chest pain) in people who have coronary artery disease (narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart). Nitroglycerin ointment can only be used to prevent attacks of angina; it cannot be used to treat an attack of angina once it has begun. Nitroglycerin is in a class of medications called vasodilators. It works by relaxing the blood vessels so that the heart does not need to work as hard and therefore does not need as much oxygen.
Topical nitroglycerin comes as an ointment to apply to the skin. It is usually applied twice a day, once right after waking in the morning, and again 6 hours later. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use nitroglycerin ointment exactly as directed. Do not apply more or less of it or apply it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Your doctor will probably start you on a lower dose of nitroglycerin ointment and may gradually increase your dose as needed to control your angina.
Nitroglycerin ointment may not work as well after it has been used for some time, especially at higher doses. To help prevent this, your doctor will schedule your doses so that there is a period of time when you are not exposed to nitroglycerin every day. If your angina attacks happen more often, last longer, or become more severe at any time during your treatment, call your doctor.
Nitroglycerin ointment helps to prevent angina attacks but does not cure coronary artery disease. Continue to use nitroglycerin ointment even if you feel well. Do not stop using nitroglycerin ointment without talking to your doctor.
Nitroglycerin ointment comes with paper applicator with a ruled line for measuring the dose (in inches). Place the paper on a flat surface and squeeze the ointment onto the paper, carefully measuring the amount specified on your prescription label. If your ointment comes in foil packets, you should know that each packet contains 1 inch of ointment and is to be used for a single dose only. Place the paper on your skin with the ointment side down, and use the paper to lightly spread the ointment to cover an area of skin at least as large as the applicator. Do not rub the ointment into the skin. Tape the applicator in place and cover it with a piece of plastic kitchen wrap to prevent the ointment from staining your clothing. If your ointment comes in a tube, replace the cap and screw it on tightly. If your ointment came in a small foil packet, throw away the packet. Try not to get the ointment on your fingers. Wash your hands after applying the ointment.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information,
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one.
redness or irritation of the skin that was covered by the ointment
worsening chest pain
difficulty breathing or swallowing
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Keep this medication out of reach of children. Close the ointment tube tightly after each use. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
slow or pounding heartbeat
shortness of breath
cold, clammy skin
loss of ability to move the body
coma (loss of consciousness for a period of time)
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Do not let anyone else use your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Last Revised - 11/01/2009
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2014. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.