Placing a nitroglycerin tablet under a chest-pain patient's tongue is an unreliable method for determining if the pain is caused by coronary artery disease, despite the method's long history of use, according to research scheduled for publication in the June issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine. Nitroglycerin relieves chest pain caused by coronary artery disease by relaxing the blood vessels to the heart, causing blood flow and oxygen supply to increase. But in some patients' cases, the drug may have relieved muscle spasms in the esophagus, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Testing 664 patients who arrived at the emergency department complaining of chest pain, the researchers found no relationship between reduction of the pain and a later diagnosis of heart disease. -- by Ralph Loos
Nitroglycerin no sure indicator of heart disease: study
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