Medicine (MD/DO)
Antihypertensive Agents

Master Nitroprusside with Picmonic for Medicine

With Picmonic, facts become pictures. We've taken what the science shows - image mnemonics work - but we've boosted the effectiveness by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzing.


Recommended Picmonics

picmonic thumbnail
Hypertension Intervention
picmonic thumbnail
Hypertension Medications
picmonic thumbnail
ACE Inhibitors
picmonic thumbnail
ACE Inhibitor Toxicity
picmonic thumbnail
Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARBs)


Nitroprusside is a nitrate drug with potent venodilator and vasodilator properties. It is administered via IV and is broken down in the blood into NO, which in turn, increases cGMP, leading to smooth muscle relaxation. This translates into vasodilation and venodilation (slightly more venodilation than vasodilation), which is helpful in rapidly reducing the blood pressure, as this drug is rapid acting and has a short half-life. It is because of this drug's properties that it is given during malignant hypertension, which is a severe increase in blood pressure, causing impairment of one or more organ systems. A notable side effect of this drug is cyanide toxicity. Nitroprusside administration can lead to iatrogenic cyanide toxicity if overused. Sodium nitroprusside has 5 CN ligands in its molecule, and breaks down into thiocyanate. This is usually detoxified in the blood, but can reach toxic levels in the blood. Furthermore, the half-life of thiocyanate is not as short as nitroprussides, but is several days, and patients are at risk for toxicity and effects for longer.
Direct Release of NO
Released NO-gas

Nitroprusside breaks down in circulation to become nitric oxide (NO). Downstream effects of NO in the blood are venodilation and vasodilation.

Increase cGMP
Up-arrow cycle-GraMP

As a result of increased NO, guanylyl cyclase is activated in smooth muscle, increasing cGMP production. This increase in cGMP inactivates myosin light chains and causes smooth muscle relaxation, or arteriodilation. This drug is a potent dilator of venules and arterioles.

Short Half-Life
Shorts Half-Life-clock

This drug has a half-life of 1-2 minutes and is rapidly acting.

Malignant Hypertension
Malignant-man with Hiker-BP

Nitroprusside is administered intravenously to treat malignant hypertension. Malignant hypertension, or hypertensive emergency, is a serious condition characterized by extremely high blood pressure that acutely impairs one or more organ systems.

Cyanide Toxicity
Sais with Toxic-green-glow

Nitroprusside administration can lead to iatrogenic cyanide toxicity if overused. Sodium nitroprusside has 5 CN ligands in its molecule and breaks down into thiocyanate. This is usually detoxified in the blood but can reach toxic levels in the blood. Common toxicity symptoms include vertigo, confusion, difficulty breathing, and headaches at low doses.


Take the Nitroprusside Quiz

Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.

It's worth every penny

Our Story Mnemonics Increase Mastery and Retention

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Ace Your Medicine (MD/DO) Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 1,890,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

Choose the #1 Medicine (MD/DO) student study app.

Picmonic for Medicine (MD/DO) covers information that is relevant to your entire Medicine (MD/DO) education. Whether you’re studying for your classes or getting ready to conquer the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, COMLEX Level 1, or COMLEX Level 2, we’re here to help.

Works better than traditional Medicine (MD/DO) flashcards.

Research shows that students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.