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Glyceryl trinitrate, or GTN, is a type of medicine called a nitrate. It is used to treat angina (chest pain). 

It can help stop chest pain if an angina attack has already started. It can also help to prevent them from starting.

GTN ointment can also be used to treat tears in the skin around your bottom (anal fissures).

It comes as tablets or as a spray that you put under your tongue. It also comes as patches and ointment that you put on your skin.

Sometimes GTN patches are used in hospital to make your veins easier to see if you need to have a drip (infusion).


2. Key facts

  • GTN skin patches or ointment are used every day to help prevent chest pain starting.
  • You use the tablets or spray during an angina attack, or before any activity that's likely to cause an attack.
  • The most common side effects are headaches, feeling dizzy, weak, tired or sick (nausea), and flushing.
  • Usually you will use GTN for a long time, possibly for the rest of your life.

3. Who can and cannot take it

GTN can only be used by adults aged 18 years and above. Do not give it to children.

This medicine is not suitable for some people. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have:

  • ever had an allergic reaction to GTN or any other medicine in the past
  • any recent brain or head injuries or problems (including bleeding in your brain and raised pressure in your head)
  • ever had a stroke
  • any heart problems (other than angina), including a recent heart attack or heart failure
  • low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • anaemia
  • glaucoma
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