Sublingual Nitroglycerin Tablet – What is it used for?

The sublingual nitroglycerin tablet is one of the most used forms of administration of this medicine. Nitroglycerin is a vasodilator substance, that is, it stimulates the blood vessels to dilate.

This helps increase blood flow, which may have been disturbed for various reasons. The truth is that this drug is of great importance in certain cardiovascular diseases. For example, in the treatment of angina pectoris. In this article we explain everything you need to know about the substance and what its main uses are.

What is the sublingual nitroglycerin tablet?

Sublingual Nitroglycerin Tablet it is a form in which nitroglycerin is administered. It is a substance that causes blood vessels to dilate. This is because it works by relaxing the smooth muscle that is part of the vessels.

When nitroglycerin is administered, the return of blood to the heart decreases, since the veins do not push the blood with the same intensity. In this way, the amount that reaches the heart chambers is less. This is why you need to exert less force to pump.

Further, increasing the caliber of the arteries also reduces blood pressure. In the coronary arteries (which are responsible for carrying oxygenated blood to the myocardium) it acts in a similar way. This helps the heart muscle get the oxygen it needs to beat properly.

The sublingual nitroglycerin tablet allows it to be absorbed quickly. When placed under the tongue, which is a highly vascular area, the drug passes directly into the blood and exerts its action.

The medicine relaxes the activity of the heart by lowering its blood flow load, which improves the efficiency of the heartbeat.

What is it for?

As we have mentioned, the sublingual nitroglycerin tablet used as a treatment for certain cardiovascular diseases. As explained in the "Clinical Practice Guide of the Spanish Society of Cardiology", it is administered systematically to a person with chest pain suspected of myocardial ischemia.

The most common prescription for the sublingual nitroglycerin tablet is the treatment of angina. It is a type of chest pain very similar to that which occurs when there is a myocardial infarction.

Angina is that the blood flow to the heart is reduced. In most cases this is due, as explained by the specialists of the Mayo Clinic, because the coronary arteries are narrowed due to atherosclerosis.

When this happens, a feeling of tightness appears in the chest. Angina becomes evident in situations where the need for oxygen is increased. For example, during exercise or acute stress. In fact, in many people the sublingual nitroglycerin tablet is used to prevent angina itself.

As the triggers for that episode are often identified, it can be used before certain situations. In the event that someone has experienced angina when exercising, they could take this drug to avoid its appearance the next time.

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Other indications of the sublingual nitroglycerin tablet

As explained in the technical sheet of the Drug Information Center, sublingual nitroglycerin may be part of the treatment of congestive heart failure. It is a disease that occurs when the heart cannot pump blood effectively.

What happens is that blood accumulates in other parts of the body, such as the lungs. This is why the heart muscle needs to work harder to pump blood. Nitroglycerin significantly improves this problem.

An article published in the Cuban Journal of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery comments that the sublingual nitroglycerin tablet it is also useful to perform an ergometric test, named stress test. It consists of doing physical exercise on a treadmill or an exercise bike. With it, certain heart or cardiovascular problems are revealed. The drug helps predict whether blood vessels are affected.

How the sublingual nitroglycerin tablet is given

The sublingual nitroglycerin tablet is placed under the tongue. This area is highly vascular and that is why the drug is absorbed quickly and passes into the blood, exerting its action.

It is important to emphasize that these tablets they should not be chewed or swallowed. Let them dissolve with saliva. Sometimes a tingling or burning sensation occurs in the mouth, but this is normal.

Administration varies depending on what the goal is. In the cases used to prevent angina, it is recommended to take it 5 or 10 minutes before the triggering activity. The problem is that many people develop a kind of tolerance to nitroglycerin.

Therefore, both the doses and the intervals must always be prescribed by a doctor. In addition, it is essential that if the effect of the sublingual nitroglycerin tablet is decreasing, you consult a specialist.

If an angina attack appears, it is essential to take a dose at that moment when the approach was already scheduled beforehand. If the pain or discomfort does not go away after 5 minutes, a second dose should be taken. In the event that it does not improve even with that second dose, you have to go to the emergency room.

Sublingual Nitroglycerin Tablet Considerations

Sublingual nitroglycerin tablet is a drug that can have different side effects. Also, in certain people it should not be used.

The drug produces significant vasodilation. It does not act on a specific blood vessel, but this effect extends to almost the entire body. That is why reactions such as feeling dizzy or weak may appear. In some cases there is a headache and even nausea and vomiting. Due to vasodilation the skin is hotter and reddened.

Sometimes there is blurred vision, fainting and tachycardia. Similarly, respiration may be faster than normal and shallow, so not enough oxygen is obtained, reducing the intended effect.

Who should not take nitroglycerin?

Sublingual nitroglycerin tablet cannot be used by everyone. For example, in children it is contraindicated. It is not recommended to use it in children under 18 years of age.

Similarly, in women who are breastfeeding their baby either. As explained by the Spanish Medicines Agency, it is unknown if this substance can pass into milk and be absorbed by the infant.

People who have very low blood pressure or severe anemia should also not take it. If at any time an allergic reaction or intolerance has appeared, it is essential to avoid it.

Interaction with medications and drugs

The sublingual nitroglycerin tablet is prone to interacting with certain medications and drugs, such as alcohol. Alcohol lowers blood pressure, as does nitroglycerin. That is why they should not be combined.

Certain antidepressant drugs, such as amitriptyline, can alter the absorption of nitroglycerin. Among its effects is the fact that dry mouth appears. As there is not enough saliva, it does not dissolve and is not absorbed correctly.

Another very important interaction is that which occurs with sildenafil. This medicine is known as Viagra ® and is used for erectile dysfunction. Like alcohol, it can cause your blood pressure to drop too low.

Those with angina pectoris may be advised to use nitroglycerin to prevent attacks.

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Sublingual nitroglycerin treatment is delicate

The sublingual nitroglycerin tablet should be taken specifically as recommended by the doctor.. When a higher dose is ingested, headaches, vision problems and shortness of breath appear.

As it is a drug that is absorbed sublingually, it should not be taken with any other food or drink. The tablet must be allowed to dissolve in the saliva. In addition to under the tongue, it can be placed on the cheek or on the gums.

It is essential to always have it available if a treatment has already been established. However, it is important keep it away from light and moisture.