My Marvellous Guide to using GTN

What is GTN?

Glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) is prescribed to relieve angina. Angina is pain, discomfort or tightness in the chest due to narrowing of the arteries supplying the heart muscle with blood (coronary heart disease). The narrowing could be due to a build-up of a fatty substance called atheroma or spasms. When part of your heart muscle does not get as much blood and oxygen as it needs, angina occurs.

GTN comes in tablet and spray formulations that can be put on or under the tongue for quick onset. They are used to provide rapid relief from angina symptoms. They can also be used for when angina pain is expected to happen, such as before exercise that is likely to cause chest pain (for example, before climbing stairs).

GTN works in two ways. It mainly relaxes blood vessels in your body (causing them to widen) and this reduces the strain on your heart, making it easier for your heart to pump blood around your body. It also, to a lesser extent, relaxes and widens blood vessels in your heart (coronary arteries), which increases the flow of blood to your heart muscle.

The following tips for using GTN are adopted with permission from the ‘GTN Card Project’ by Dr Rani Khatib and the Cardiac Rehab Team at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

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