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a chemical well known as an explosive but also having medical uses; it is a vasodilator and is used medically especially in the prophylaxis and treatment of angina pectoris. Called also glyceryl trinitrate.

The most common means of administration has been the sublingual tablet, which is placed under the tongue when the attack occurs; it is not effective if swallowed. Under the tongue, it quickly dissolves and should give relief within 1 or 2 minutes. It may cause transient palpitation, flushing, faintness, and perhaps headache. The patient who is taking nitroglycerin should keep it nearby at all times, stored in a tightly closed dark glass container free from heat and moisture. It is not addicting and there is no limit to the number that may be taken in a 24-hour period; however, no more than three tablets should be taken at 5 minute intervals during an attack. If no relief is obtained 15 minutes after the third tablet is taken, the physician should be notified immediately.

Several alternatives to sublingual tablets have been developed that also are absorbed through the oral mucosa, including extended release buccal tablets, which are held between the lip or cheek and upper gum, and a lingual aerosol, which is sprayed on or under the tongue.

Oral administration is now also possible, by means of extended-release tablets or capsules.

Nitroglycerin is injected intravenously for prophylaxis and long-term treatment of angina pectoris, control of blood pressure during surgery or creation of controlled hypotension during surgery, and as an adjunct in the treatment of congestive heart failure.

An alternative to sublingual administration of nitroglycerin is application in an ointment to a hairless site on the body surface. Rotation of sites helps eliminate minor skin irritation which is a common problem. The drug is applied by using a manufacturer-supplied measuring applicator paper. A measured amount of ointment is squeezed onto the paper (never directly on the skin) in a thin uniform layer and the paper is placed on the site. The paper is then covered with plastic wrap and held in place with tape or an elastic bandage.

The usual dosage is a 1- to 2-inch strip, but 5-inch strips are also available. Most patients need several applications per day. The area is cleansed of any remaining ointment and a new site chosen when the next dose is due. Patients who are to use the nitroglycerin ointment at home must be given detailed instructions in its use and should be aware of its expected results and local and systemic side effects.

Nitroglycerin is also available as a transdermal patch.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


Minitran, Nitrek, Nitro-Dur, Nitroject, Nitrolingual, Nitromist, Nitronal (UK), Nitroquick, Nitrostat

Pharmacologic class: Nitrate

Therapeutic class: Antianginal

Pregnancy risk category C


Inhibits calcium transport into myocardial and vascular smooth muscle cells, suppressing contractions. Dilates main coronary arteries and arterioles, inhibits coronary artery spasm, increases oxygen delivery to heart, and reduces frequency and severity of angina attacks.


Capsules (extended-release): 2.5 mg, 6.5 mg, 9 mg

Injection: 0.5 mg/ml, 5 mg/ml

Ointment (transdermal): 2%

Solution for injection: 25 mg/250 ml, 50 mg/250 ml, 50 mg/500 ml, 100 mg/250 ml, 200 mg/500 ml

Spray (translingual): 0.4 mg/spray in 14.5-g canister (200 doses)

Tablets (buccal, extended-release): 1 mg, 2 mg, 3 mg, 5 mg

Tablets (extended-release): 2.6 mg, 6.5 mg, 9 mg

Tablets (sublingual): 0.3 mg, 0.4 mg, 0.6 mg

Transdermal system (patch): 0.1 mg/hour, 0.2 mg/hour, 0.3 mg/hour, 0.4 mg/hour, 0.6 mg/hour, 0.8 mg/hour

Indications and dosages

Management and prophylaxis of angina pectoris

Adults: For acute angina attack, 0.3 to 0.6 mg S.L., repeated q 5 minutes for 15 minutes p.r.n.; or one to two trans-lingual sprays, repeated q 5 minutes for 15 minutes p.r.n. For long-term or prophylactic use, 1-mg extended-release buccal tablet q 5 hours, with dosage and frequency increased p.r.n.; or 2.5 to 9 mg (extended-release tablets) P.O. q 8 to 12 hours; or 1.3 to 6.5 mg (extended-release capsules) P.O. q 8 to 12 hours.

Hypertension during surgery; adjunct in heart failure

Adults: 5 mcg/minute I.V., increased by 5 mcg/minute q 3 to 5 minutes up to 20 mcg/minute, then increased by 10 to 20 mcg/minute q 3 to 5 minutes (dosage based on hemodynamic parameters)

Heart failure associated with acute myocardial infarction (MI)

Adults: 12.5 to 25 mcg I.V., then a continuous infusion of 10 to 20 mcg/minute q 5 to 10 minutes; increase by 5 to 10 mcg/minute q 5 to 10 minutes as needed to a maximum of 200 mcg/minute.


• Hypersensitivity to drug, other organic nitrates, nitrites, or adhesives (transdermal form)

• Angle-closure glaucoma

• Orthostatic hypotension

• Hypotension or uncorrected hypovolemia (I.V. form)

• Early MI (S.L. form)

• Increased intracranial pressure (as from head trauma or cerebral hemorrhage)

• Severe anemia

• Pericardial tamponade or constrictive pericarditis

• Concurrent sildenafil therapy


Use cautiously in:

• severe renal or hepatic impairment, glaucoma, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

• hypovolemia, normal or decreased pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (with I.V. use)

• alcohol intolerance (with large I.V. doses)

• pregnant or breastfeeding patients

• children (safety not established).


• Administer tablets and capsules with water. Don't crush, break, or let patient chew them.

• For S.L. use, administer under tongue or in buccal pouch; instruct patient not to swallow tablet. For acute angina, give at pain onset. For angina prophylaxis, give before activities that may cause anginal pain.

• For translingual use, spray directly onto oral mucosa. Don't let patient inhale spray. Give at pain onset and as needed prophylactically before activities that trigger angina.

• For transdermal use, apply system to skin site with little hair and movement. Don't apply to distal extremities. Rotate application sites to avoid irritation and sensitization.

• Apply transdermal ointment to skin by spreading prescribed amount over 6″ × 6″ area (using an applicator, not your fingers). Cover area with plastic wrap and tape. Rotate sites to reduce risk of irritation and inflammation.

Know that solution for injection is a concentrate. Dilute with dextrose 5% in water or normal saline solution before giving by I.V. infusion.

Don't mix solution for injection with other drugs, and don't give by direct I.V. injection.

• Be aware that solution for injection is affected by type of infusion set used and that dosage is based on use of conventional PVC tubing. When using nonabsorbent tubing, reduce dosage.

• For I.V. use, administer with infusion pump. Increase dosage in increments of 5 mcg/minute every 3 to 5 minutes p.r.n. to achieve desired blood pressure response. Once achieved, reduce dosage and lengthen dosage adjustment intervals.

Don't give concurrently with sildenafil (may cause life-threatening hypotension).

Adverse reactions

CNS: dizziness, headache

CV: hypotension, syncope

Hematologic: methemoglobinemia

Skin: contact dermatitis (with transdermal or ointment use), rash, exfoliative dermatitis, flushing


Drug-drug. Antihypertensives, beta-adrenergic blockers, calcium channel blockers, haloperidol, phenothiazines: additive hypotension

Drugs with anticholinergic properties (antihistamines, phenothiazines, tri-cyclic antidepressants): decreased absorption of lingual, S.L., or buccal nitroglycerin

Sildenafil: increased risk of potentially fatal hypotension

Drug-diagnostic tests. Cholesterol: false elevation

Methemoglobin: significant levels (with excessive doses)

Urine catecholamines, urine vanillyl-mandelic acid: increased levels

Drug-behaviors. Alcohol use, acute alcohol ingestion: increased risk of potentially fatal hypotension

Patient monitoring

With I.V. use, monitor blood pressure frequently. Titrate dosage to obtain desired results.

• With transdermal use, check for rash or skin irritation.

• Monitor patient for angina relief.

Patient teaching

• Instruct patient to place S.L. tablet directly under tongue and hold it there as it dissolves. Caution him not to chew or swallow tablet.

• Tell patient to use drug before physical activities that may cause angina.

• Instruct patient to take drug at pain onset and repeat every 5 minutes for three doses. If pain doesn't subside, advise him to seek medical attention.

• Tell patient not to chew or crush sustained-release tablets.

• Advise patient to apply correct amount of ointment using applicator. Caution him to avoid rubbing site. Instruct him to cover ointment with plastic wrap and tape it, to wash hands after placement, and to rotate sites.

• Advise patient to consult prescriber or pharmacist before changing brands of transdermal system. Different brands may have different drug concentrations.

• As appropriate, review all significant and life-threatening adverse reactions and interactions, especially those related to the drugs, tests, and behaviors mentioned above.

McGraw-Hill Nurse's Drug Handbook, 7th Ed. Copyright © 2013 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


An explosive, yellowish, oily fluid formed by the action of sulfuric and nitric acids on glycerin; used as a vasodilator, especially in angina pectoris; generates nitric oxide.
Synonym(s): 1, 2, 3-propanetriol trinitrate, glyceryl trinitrate, trinitroglycerin
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012




(nī′trō-glĭs′ər-ĭn, -trə-)
A thick, pale yellow liquid, C3H5N3O9, that is explosive on concussion or exposure to sudden heat. It is used in the production of dynamite and blasting gelatin and as a vasodilator in medicine.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Cardiology Glycerol trinitrate An organic nitrate that is a short-acting agent for treating anginal pain and CHF Side effects Headache, tachycardia, nausea, hypotension; other organic nitrates–eg, ethylene nitrate, trinitrotoluene–TNT, are used to produce explosives. See Monday death.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


An explosive, yellowish, oily fluid formed by the action of sulfuric and nitric acids on glycerin; used as a vasodilator, especially in angina pectoris; generates nitric oxide.
Synonym(s): 1, 2, 3-propanetriol trinitrate, glyceryl trinitrate, trinitroglycerin.
An explosive, yellowish, oily fluid formed by the action of sulfuric and nitric acids on glycerin; used as a vasodilator.
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


Explosive, yellowish, oily fluid formed by action of sulfuric and nitric acids on glycerin; used as a vasodilator, especially in angina pectoris.
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012
References in periodicals archive ?
A diligent search for nitro-glycerine loaders Seneca Wheeler, Walter Wheeler, and Ira Hinkley turned up only a few unidentifiable scraps of flesh and charred bone.
The use of nitro-glycerine medications for the relief of angina was minimal, with the majority (84%) reporting not taking the medication in the previous four weeks.
There were just a few of us who were concerned at the way that the only evidence produced in court consisted of some finger swabs which had been analysed by a Home Office forensic scientist, who swore that only nitro-glycerine could have produced the positive result he found.
Fresh from his eyebrow makeover, Sewell injects arrogant foppishness but is easily outshone in the cartoon villainy stakes by Nick Chinlund who, sporting wooden dentures and a black frock coat, goes about murderously doing the Lord's work on behalf of a simmering conspiracy involving the Confederacy and a nitro-glycerine factory.
But when the idea is deemed as somehow historic, like Jack's anti-smoking campaign, then it makes nitro-glycerine look like plasticine.
Anne Maguire - who was accused of passing nitro-glycerine to the IRA in 1974 to make bombs for the Guildford and Woolwich bombs - was presented with the Bene Merenti papal award.
Never mind Iron Mike, meet nitro-glycerine Nathan, the striker with more explosive pace than a US jet fighter, more movement than a turbo-powered Ferrari and more punch than a heavyweight champion.
"Semtex, nitro-glycerine, detonaters - he has mountains of the stuff but if he truly has gone chemical then he doesn't need any of this."
Now, if you can accept that a walkie-talkie signal can penetrate inside a mountain ravine from miles away but can't travel a few feet on open ground then you'll have no problem suspending disbelief sufficiently not to question why Garrett's team don't take oxygen supplies, why they split up into three groups and why they all feel compelled to carry huge canisters of unstable Pakistani army surplus nitro-glycerine.
The Guildford police found no explosives, but - using now-discredited forensic tests - they convinced themselves they had found traces of nitro-glycerine in what was termed "Auntie Anne's bomb kitchen".
Cher, who described the event as a "competitive sport", said: "I guess this was trial by fire - but once Tina was there it was more like trial by nitro-glycerine."Tina's like the carrot they put in front of the donkey for me."
Then there's the new anti-impotence cream set to rival Viagra, which contains nitro-glycerine. You just rub it on and stand well back.