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besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nitroglycerin belongs to a group of drugs that are called nitrates. Their primary use is to manage heart pain by relaxing blood vessels and allowing more blood flow to the heart. Angina, or heart pain, is caused by an insufficient amount of blood and oxygen flow to the muscle of the heart. Nitroglycerin works by dilating the blood vessels that supply the heart.

It is believed that all nitrates, including nitroglycerin, correct the imbalance between the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart and the work that the heart must do by dilating (widening) the arteries and veins in the body.

Nitroglycerin was synthesized in 1846. It was first used to treat angina in 1879 and approved by the FDA in 1938.


dano7744 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nitroglycerin is one of the oldest medicinal preparations known to man. Current day usage is predominately focused on its excellent vasodilator effects on the cardiovascular system. Angina pectoris patients use NTG when having chest pain. NTG quickly dilates the coronary arteries thereby increasing blood flow to the myocardium.

It is also used by some physicians to rapidly lower the blood pressure of hypertensive patients. It lowers BP by decreasing systemic vascular resistance. It dilates all blood vessels.

NTG is given by mouth, sublingually,transdermally, and intravenously. 

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the main uses of nitroglycerin has historically been as an explosive.  It was extremely usedul in the 19th and 20th centuries because of its very intense explosive power.  The main problem with it was that it was also incredibly unstable and so its use as an explosive has become very limited.  It can be stabilized to be used more effectively and some mixtures of it are still used.

It is also used medically, mainly for the treatment of angina as it can help to deconstrict blood vessels after a heart attack and to prevent one from happening again.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Nitroglycerin is an explosive, which is the principal explosive ingredient of dynamite.  Pure nitroglycerin is a heavy, oily liquid that is as clear as water,  because of impurities is generally straw-coloured.  The explosive power of nitroglycerin is about three times as that of conventional gunpowder, and the explosion speed is 25 times as fast as that of gunpowder.

Though nitroglycerin was discovered in 1846, it was not used widely because it was unreliable.  In 1864, Alfred Nobel obtained a patent on a detonating cap made of mercury fulminate, which proved ideal for exploding nitroglycerin.  In 1867, Nobel invented dynamite, which provided a safe and convenient means for the transportation and use of nitroglycerin.  With this nitroglycerin quickly became the most widely used explosive.

Nitroglycerin is an ingredient of many smokeless powders, such as cordite and ballistite.  It is seldom used alone as an explosive, except for blasting in oil wells.  Doctors use nitroglycerin to treat certain heart and circulatory diseases. Nitroglycerin tablets placed under the tongue enlarge the coronary arteries, enabling more blood to flow past the fatty deposits.  Nitroglycerin can stop angina pain within two minutes.

giorgiana1976 | Student

Nitroglycerin is an important element in the explosives manufacturing, but because of particular sensitivity to mechanical actions, it must be handled very carefully.

Nitroglycerin is currently used, in small quantities, to increase the power of saltpeter based explosives. 

By sublingual administration, nitroglycerin is used, because of it's vasodilator action,  to treat seizures of angina, heart failure and heart attacks.

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