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Nitroglycerine

Nitroglycerine

Uses

Nitroglycerin extended-release capsules are used to prevent chest pain (angina) in people with a certain heart condition (coronary artery disease). This medication belongs to a class of drugs known as nitrates. Angina occurs when the heart muscle is not getting enough blood. This drug works by relaxing and widening blood vessels so blood can flow more easily to the heart.

This medication will not relieve chest pain once it occurs. It is also not intended to be taken just before physical activities (such as exercise, sexual activity) to prevent chest pain. Other medications may be needed in these situations. Consult your doctor for more details.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Nitroglycerin sublingual tablets are used to treat episodes of angina (chest pain) in people who have coronary artery disease (narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart). It is also used just before activities that may cause episodes of angina in order to prevent the angina from occurring. Nitroglycerin is in a class of medications called vasodilators. It works by relaxing the blood vessels so the heart does not need to work as hard and therefore does not need as much oxygen.

How to use Nitroglycerin

Take this medication by mouth, usually 3 to 4 times daily or as directed by your doctor. It is important to take the drug at the same times each day. Do not change the dosing times unless directed by your doctor. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.

Swallow this medication whole. Do not crush or chew the capsules. Doing so can release all of the drug at once and may increase your risk of side effects.

Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. Do not suddenly stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when the drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased.

How should this medicine be used?

Nitroglycerin comes as a sublingual tablet to take under the tongue. The tablets is usually taken as needed, either 5 to 10 minutes before activities that may cause attacks of angina or at the first sign of an attack. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take nitroglycerin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Nitroglycerin may not work as well after you have used it for some time or if you have taken many doses. Take the fewest tablets needed to relieve the pain of your attacks. If your angina attacks happen more often, last longer, or become more severe at any time during your treatment, call your doctor.

Nitroglycerin is underused

Nitroglycerin and related drugs, known as nitrates, widen the arteries that nourish the heart and reduce the heart's workload. Under-the-tongue (sublingual) nitroglycerin tablets are perhaps the best-known version of this common medication. But nitrates come in a variety of different formulations (see "Nitrates for angina: Many choices").

"My personal view is that these medications are seriously underused. Nitrates have substantial benefits both for chronic stable coronary disease and for heart failure," says Dr. James Januzzi, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the cardiac intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. Nitrates can help treat and prevent bouts of angina and reduce the overall number of attacks, he says. And people with heart failure may reap additional benefits. For instance, by expanding large veins in the legs and lungs, nitrates lower the amount of blood returning to the heart, easing fluid buildup in the lungs and combating shortness of breath.

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