Pharmacology Nitro / Angina #4


Which teaching is accurate when instructing a client about sublingual nitroglycerin if chest pain is experienced at home? Select all that apply.


  1. Stop what you are doing and sit down
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because a client experiencing angina of any kind should rest. Also, since the sublingual nitroglycerin the client is about to take can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure and the client should sit.

  2. First call 911, then take pills as instructed
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because although call 911 is important, the priority is taking the medication which will save the person’s life. As they are waiting the 5 minutes for the next pill, the client could call emergency personnel.

  3. Take the pill with a full glass of water
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because the sublingual nitroglycerin should not be swallowed. It should be placed under the tongue. Therefore, the full glass of water is not needed for absorption.

  4. Simultaneously place three pills under the tongue
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because sublingual nitroglycerin pills should be taken one pill at a time, placed under the tongue, and taken every 5 minutes for up to 3 pills. The pills should not be taken all at once. This could cause an immediate, dangerous drop in blood pressure.

  5. Store the pills in the dark colored, original container
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because the sublingual nitroglycerin tablets should stay in the original, dark container to prevent changes in effectiveness caused by light and heat.


Client teaching about usage and storage of sublingual nitroglycerin is imperative for effective treatment of angina. This medication is useless if not taken properly and every effort should be made to assure the client understands correct administration and storage.


Learning Outcomes

Effective client teaching regarding sublingual nitroglycerin is a matter of life or death for the client. If, during an acute episode of angine, the client swallows the pill rather than placing it under the tongue, the medication is not absorbed quickly enough and the client could die. How and when to take the medication, when to call emergency personnel, and how to store the medication is among the most important information the client should be taught.

Test Taking Tip

Look at times and routes within questions because there is often a reason that is included within the question.

Video Rationale