Learning About Vasodilators

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Vasodilators are a type of medicine that help widen blood vessels. They can lower blood pressure. And they make it easier for the heart to pump blood. They are used to treat certain health problems. These include heart failure and high blood pressure. When used with other medicines for heart failure, they may help relieve symptoms. And they may help lower the risk of early death.


For each item in the list, the generic name is first. This is followed by any brand names.

  • hydralazine
  • isosorbide dinitrate and hydralazine (BiDil)

Possible side effects

Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects. They are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine. They may include:

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Headaches.
  • Flushing. You may feel warm in the face and neck.
  • Nausea.

What to know about taking this medicine

Some cautions are:

  • If you take hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate, do NOT use erection-enhancing medicines. They include sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra). If taken together, they can cause very low blood pressure. This can cause serious problems, and even death.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant. Let your doctor know if you breastfeed.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before you use any other medicines. This includes ones you buy over the counter. Make sure your doctor knows all of the medicines you take. And tell your doctor about any vitamins, herbal products, and supplements you take. Taking some medicines together can cause problems.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.