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What Is Nitroglycerin?

If you have angina (chest pain) caused by coronary heart disease, you may benefit from nitroglycerin (Minitran™, Nitro-Bid®, Nitro-Dur®, Nitrolingual®, NitroMist®, Nitrostat®, Rectiv™). But what is nitroglycerin and how does it work?
 
Nitroglycerin is a type of nitrate that works by relaxing the arteries and veins. This helps to improve blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart. Because angina is usually caused when there is not enough oxygen to meet the heart's needs, this medication can help relieve angina attacks. By relaxing the blood vessels, it can also lower blood pressure.
 
This prescription drug comes in various forms, including tablets, patches, an ointment, and an intravenous (IV) solution. Nitroglycerin is specifically approved to help treat or prevent angina (chest pain).
 
Although most people tolerate this medication well, side effects may occur and can include headaches, lightheadedness, and fainting.
 
(Click Nitroglycerin for more details on what nitroglycerin is prescribed for and how it works. This full-length article also discusses potential side effects, general dosing guidelines, possible safety concerns, and more.)
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