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What Are the Potential Risks and Benefits of Nitroglycerin?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

what is nitroglycerin used for

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  • Nitroglycerin works by relaxing the arteries, allowing greater blood flow to the heart and reducing the risk of heart attack. However, when used in continuous treatment it may lose effectiveness and increase the risk of greater damage to the heart during a heart attack
  • Nitroglycerine may also induce hypotension (low blood pressure) in those experiencing rapid heart rate
  • Nitroglycerin is a prodrug, metabolized in the body to nitric oxide, which triggers vasodilation; it may also increase vasodilation through regulation of organic nitrates or increasing the activity of histone acetylases
  • Nitroglycerin should be used responsibly to eliminate chest pain; it may be administered once every five minutes, but if no relief is experienced after three doses, seek immediate medical attention
  • Blocked arteries are a symptom of a greater systemic disease affected by smoking, obesity, diabetes, imbalanced cholesterol levels and high levels of iron

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and was responsible for 840,768 deaths in 2016. According to the American College of Cardiology, these numbers decreased by 18.6% between 2006 and 2016. However, the annual financial cost continues to be high, estimated at $351.2 billion in 2014-2015.

The World Health Organization estimates 17.9 million people die every year from cardiovascular disease and it is responsible for 31% of all deaths worldwide. Of these deaths, 85% are due to heart attacks and stroke.


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