Take nitroglycerin to ease-and avoid-a common heart disease symptom

Discovered more than 150 years ago, this drug comes in a variety of formulations. Does one make sense for you?

Published: March, 2014

If your heart's arteries are choked with cholesterol-filled plaque, a sudden increase in the heart's demand for oxygen-rich blood from physical exertion or emotional stress can trigger the chest pain known as angina. But a tiny tablet of nitroglycerin often relieves the pain within minutes.

Nitroglycerin is underused

Nitroglycerin and related drugs, known as nitrates, widen the arteries that nourish the heart and reduce the heart's workload. Under-the-tongue (sublingual) nitro- glycerin tablets are perhaps the best-known version of this common medication. But nitrates come in a variety of different formulations (see "Nitrates for angina: Many choices").

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