Long-Term Nitroglycerin Use, More Harm Than Cure?

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Heart disease is one of the most common health problems that the general population is facing, most specifically, it usually affects those individuals who have the risk factors such as: unhealthy lifestyle, poor and improper nutrition, and stressful work conditions. Once a person is affected by a heart disease, he has to undergo series of pharmacological treatment and lifestyle changes in order to achieve better treatment outcomes. One of the pharmacological treatments used for heart diseases especially for those who are suffering from chest pain or angina involves the use of Nitroglycerin, however, when used continuously can increase the severity of heart attacks, according to a study.

Nitroglycerin is a drug which has vasodilating effects, and because of this, it is usually used for the treatment of episodes of angina for those individuals who have coronary artery disease in which the blood supply going to the heart is being blocked causing the chest pain as an effect. This drug comes in different packaging or forms, it could be in a form of tablet or oral sprays.  Nitroglycerin has been proven effective as a pharmacological treatment to help relieve angina, but according to a new study, a continuous use of this drug can back fire its supposed therapeutic effect.

The study which was published in Science Translational Medicine used rats as models to test the possible effect of continuous and sustained use of nitroglycerin on the severity of heart attacks. The researchers found out that continuous treatment of nitroglycerin increases the severity of heart attack among the animals. Furthermore, they have discovered that the heart damaged acquired after 16 hour of treatment was doubled compared to those rats who were not treated.

According to the researchers, certain evidences were published that the main reason for this adverse effect of continuous use of nitroglycerin is brought about by the damages produced to the cells of the heart which in turn diminishes an important enzyme called ALDH2. This enzyme has a very important function because this protects the heart from the damages caused by ischemia or decreased blood supply to the heart. Hence, when ALDH2 enzyme is decreased as a result of continuous treatment, this could lead to a more severe heart attack.

Moreover, “Nitroglycerin improves blood flow when the vessels are constricting. But what we found is that if you use it for too long, the enzyme that helps protect against tissue damage – ALDH2 – dies. With our animal model, we demonstrated that the loss of this enzyme makes the outcome from the heart attack worse. Nitroglycerin is not benign.” Daria Mochly-Rosen, PhD, senior author of the study, said. In addition, nitroglycerin treatment can be of safety if it will be administered together with an enzyme of the same function with ALDH2 if proven safe among humans.

 

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