Understanding Angina and Nitroglycerin Use

Dr. Oyidie Igbokidi
As one of the most common types of chest pain, angina generally involves a sensation of aching, burning, discomfort, pain or squeezing in the chest. It is essential for patients with angina to understand the treatment options, particularly the use of nitroglycerin. Dr. Oyidie Igbokidi, an interventional cardiologist at the CHI St. Vincent Heart Clinic Arkansas in Hot Springs, responds to several common questions related to the use of nitroglycerin to treat angina.

How do I know if nitroglycerin will work for me?

“If your symptoms are not escalating and are easily relieved by rest or medication, we call it stable angina and some of those patients might require nitroglycerin for their symptoms. The medication dilates the blood vessels.”

When should I take nitroglycerin?

"If you’re exerting yourself, stop what you’re doing and sit down. If the symptoms don’t resolve after five minutes, place a nitroglycerin tablet underneath your tongue.”

How quickly will I feel relief from nitroglycerin?

“It can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, so we always instruct the patient to make sure they’re seated before they use a nitroglycerin tablet. If after five minutes you don’t feel any better, you can use a second nitroglycerin.”

What should I do if the pain persists after taking nitroglycerin?

“I typically tell my patients by the time you’ve used two tablets and you’re still having symptoms, you should call 911, especially if things are escalating. Don’t get into the car and drive to the emergency room.”

Is nitroglycerin the only treatment for angina?

“Patients that we see in an emergency room setting or in an outpatient clinic with angina symptoms are treated with different medications. Those are typically more severe and require immediate attention.”

To learn more about heart health, treatment options and how to make healthy choices to help prevent heart disease, visit: chistvincent.com/heart