Relief of coronary artery spasm by nitroglycerin: Time-dependent variability in drug action
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The arteriographic distinction between a fixed atheromatous obstruction and localized vasospasm in the coronary artery is often decided by the response of the lesion to nitroglycerin. We studied the time course of nitroglycerin in four patients with coronary artery spasm as revealed by selective angiography. Following complete dissolution of a 0.6 mg tablet of nitroglycerin sublingually a slight increase in heart rate occurred as early as two minutes, variable changes in overall vessel diameter were observed within four minutes, but the localized spasm remained fixed. It was not until six minutes had elasped that reinjection showed disappearance of spasm and uniform patency of the vessel in all cases. These observations stress the importance of waiting an appropriate period of time (at least six minutes) following complete absorption of sublingual nitroglycerin before any conclusion can be rationally drawn regarding the nature of a stenotic lesion as seen angiographically.
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