Nitrates are a group of drugs which have vasodilating effects. The main indications for their use is in the management of angina and the acute treatment of heart failure. Sublingual glyceryl trinitrate is the most common drug used in patients with ischaemic heart disease to relieve angina attacks.

Mechanism of action

Mechanism of action
  • Nitrates cause the release of nitric oxide in smooth muscle, activating guanylate cyclase which then converts GTP to cGMP, which in turn leads to a fall in intracellular calcium levels
  • In angina they both dilate the coronary arteries and also reduce venous return which in turn reduces left ventricular work, reducing myocardial oxygen demand

Adverse effects

  • Hypotension
  • Tachycardia
  • Headaches
  • Flushing