Rationale for intermittent nitrate therapy

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Tolerance to the pharmacologic and therapeutic effects of nitrate therapy is now well established. This phenomenon may be defined as either a decreased response to a given amount of nitrate or the need for an increased amount of nitrate to maintain a constant effect. Tolerance has been demonstrated with all forms of nitrate therapy that maintain continuous blood levels of the drug, including frequent oral dosing, constant intravenous infusion, and continuous transdermal delivery. It can develop rapidly after only a few doses of a nitrate preparation and tends to be partial rather than absolute. Strategies for the prevention of nitrate tolerance include the avoidance of maximum nitrate doses and the use of intermittent nitrate dosing regimens. Providing a relatively brief nitrate-free interval restores vascular responsiveness to nitrates, most likely due to a recovery of the metabolic mechanisms responsible for the therapeutic effect of these drugs. The duration of this period of nitrate abstinence varies, depending on the nitrate preparation used but is generally in the range of 8-12 hours. Such intermittent therapy not only reduces the risk of nitrate tolerance, but also provides a convenient approach to outpatient management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalThe American journal of cardiology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Nov 27 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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