The need-to-know information for Nitroglycerin


Pearls and Fun Nuggets

1. It was used as an explosive first ūüí£Invented in 1847, nitroglycerin has been used as an active ingredient in the manufacture of¬†explosives, mostly¬†dynamite, and as such it is employed in the¬†construction,¬†demolition, and¬†mining¬†industries.

2. Nitroglycerin can be given in many routes ūüĎć It is available in sublingual tablets, sprays, ointments, injections, and patches.[5]

3. Your first time might hurt ūüė©Infrequent exposure to high doses of nitroglycerin can cause severe¬†headaches¬†known as “NG head” or “bang head”. These headaches can be severe enough to incapacitate some people; however, humans develop a¬†tolerance¬†to and dependence on nitroglycerin after long-term exposure.

4. The man who created it as an explosive, was given it for his heart ūüíē a A few months before his death in 1896, Alfred Nobel (the founder of nitroglycerin as a commercially useful explosive) was prescribed nitroglycerin for this heart condition, writing to a friend: “Isn’t it the irony of fate that I have been prescribed nitro-glycerin, to be taken internally! They call it Trinitrin, so as not to scare the chemist and the public.”[13]

Patient Perspectives

“I have had heart disease for many years and always have a bottle (tiny!) of sub-lingual nitros in my pocket. When I feel chest pain, one under the tongue and the pain goes away, in my case, every time. The nitro works very quickly to dilate your blood vessels allowing more blood and oxygen to get to your heart muscle. Ask your doctor how to proceed should one pill not relieve the pain. Sub-linguals have a limited life once the bottle is opened the first time, about 3-6 months. If you find yourself using all the pills within that time (25 tiny tablets, typically), then they are best. If you only need it occasionally, get the pump spray as it has a much longer life. It is, however, more expensive.”


“There should be a WARNING on this, NOT to take while driving. Can make you extremely dizzy, spaced out, eye pain, etc.”


“My cardiologist recommend this drug to relieve shortness of breath at night due to atrial fibrillation. The sublingual 0.4 mg tablet gives a slight burning sensation under the tongue, which is not uncomfortable. A slight headache was felt on the forehead but was of short duration. The immediate dilation of the blood vessels achieves relief within one minute. Very positive results.”

Brandon Simpson, PA-C
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