Popular Drug for Heart, Nitroglycerin, Can Cause Severe Damage When Administered Continuously

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Nitroglycerin is the most popular and effective drug that is administered to heart patients. However, latest studies have shown that when used continuously for prolonged duration, this drug can cause severe damage to the heart. The chance of subsequent heart attacks increases drastically. The study was carried out on laboratory mice by Stanford University School of Medicine.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Daria Mochly Rosen said that the study has highlighted the need to take proper precautions when administering nitroglycerine to heart patients. The use of this drug is rampant all over the world and has been in practice since more than a century. According to the researchers, it is perhaps the fact that nitroglycerin is such an old drug that facilities were unavailable at that time to test its side effects. Since the results produced by the drug are very positive, no further research was carried on.

The present study brings to light the dangers of using the drug for long hours. However, the study has also recommended an alternative to prevent the damage caused by nitroglycerin. Administration of Alda 1 activator enzyme can be effective in reducing the undesirable effects of nitroglycerin.

Nitroglycerin is extensively used by people who suffer from various heart conditions such as chest pains and heart attacks. The main ways of administering the drug is in tablet form, patch, through IV drip or oral sprays. The drug helps in unblocking blood vessels and allowing free flow of blood. On the other hand, when the drug is used continuously, it causes desensitization. Incidentally, nitroglycerin is also the main chemical used in making dynamite.

One effective way of reducing the ill effects of the drug is to administer it on and off. When a patient is admitted in the hospital for heart attack, the drug is administered for 16 straight hours and then stopped for eight hours before continuing. Research over the years have shown that prolonged and continuous exposure to the drug causes damage to heart tissues and blood vessels. It mainly hampers the functioning of ALDH2 enzyme which keeps the heart free of toxins from free radicals. When nitroglycerin is administered, this enzyme breaks it up into nitric oxide and hence, helps the heart. However, it has been found that if a heart attack occurs during the period of administration, the effects could be disastrous. When tested on rats, it was found that nitroglycerin damaged the heart twice as much as in animals that were not treated with the drug.