The onset of the hypotensive action of sodium nitro-prusside is rapid, within 30 seconds after intravenous administration. If a single dose is given, the action lasts for only a couple of minutes. Therefore, sodium nitro-prusside must be administered by continuous intravenous infusion. After the infusion is stopped, blood pressure returns to predrug levels within 2 to 3 minutes.
Nitroprusside is metabolically degraded by the liver, yielding thiocyanate. Because thiocyanate is excreted by the kidney, toxicities due to this compound are most likely in patients with impaired renal function.
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