What is Glyceryl Trinitrate (GTN)?
For those who suffer from angina, the attacks can be frequent and very painful. Fortunately a group of drugs called trinitrates has been developed to try and help alleviate some of this pain.
What Exactly is Glyceryl Trinitrate?Glyceryl trinitrate, or more commonly known as GTN, belongs to a group of drugs called nitrates that contain the chemical nitric oxide. They have been designed to allow the blood vessels in the body to relax and widen allowing more blood to flow through them.In doing so more oxygen can be carried in the blood and the heart does not have to work so hard to keep up with both the demands of the tissues and the resistance caused by the build ups in the vessels.
GTN can be prescribed in a variety of forms such as tablets or an oral spray. The tablets are designed to be slow release and dissolve under the tongue. The spray in also applied under the tongue, as this area is highly vascular, meaning that there is a plentiful supply of blood vessels that can absorb the medication. The patient often has the choice of which preparation they would prefer. It can be taken on as ‘as required’ basis, which benefits the patient if they anticipate doing any exercise or activity that will put additional pressure and workload on the heart.
Why do I Need GTN?For many people with blocked coronary arteries, usually caused by a build up of fatty acids called plaques within the vessel, the flow of blood to the actual heart muscle can become severely compromised. When this occurs the heart tissue becomes oxygen depleted and pain happens. This is known as angina and attacks can be sporadic or quite frequent and increase in severity.
GTN is prescribed with the aim of helping to dilate these blood vessels and allowing more oxygen enriched blood to supply the heart muscle, hence lowering the risks of an angina attack occurring.
Are There Any Side-Effects?Although GTN is generally a safe medication, and is prescribed for the majority of patients suffering from regular angina attacks, there are some indications that prevent its prescription.The use of GTN is not advised in those with a history of low blood pressure, those who have suffered head injuries and/or haemorrhage and in those with kidney or liver diseases. Not to be used by those who take Viagra or similar preparations, or in those with certain heart conditions and problems with their circulation.Always discuss concerns with your GP and make sure you inform them of any medical history before starting any new medications.
Due to the nature of the way in which they function, flushing and dizziness may occur, especially if the dose is not adhered to. Patients may experience slight nausea and headaches when they first begin to take the drug, but this should subside as the patient becomes more tolerant of the medication.Medicines should be discarded after 2 months and a new prescription sought.
GTN has proved very beneficial to those with angina, and gives them the confidence to participate in life’s activities with a lesser fear of pain occurring. If taken as advised, along with the patient making changes in their lifestyle to lessen the chance of increasing their blood vessels narrowing further, it can help the patient live a happier life.