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Glyceryl Trinitrate Tablets (GTN) for Acute Chest Pain

GTN sublingual tablet is used either to relieve the pain of heart (angina) attacks or to prevent an expected heart attack, such as when you are about to exercise.

The tablet should be used at the first sign of a heart attack. This medicine usually gives relief in less than 5 minutes (Important: Do not wait until severe pain develops)

Here’s our pharmacist’s advice on some of the commonly asked questions about GTN.

  1. Why must I place my Glyceryl Trinitrate (GTN) tablets under the tongue? Can I swallow it?
  2. When do I need to take GTN?
  3. How many GTN tablets should I take when I have an attack? Is there a maximum quantity I can take?
  4. Should I store my GTN tablets in the refrigerator?
  5. Why must I store my GTN tablets in a cool dry place away from light?
  6. Can I keep my GTN tablets in my pocket?

  1. Why must I place my Glyceryl Trinitrate (GTN) tablets under the tongue? Can I swallow it?

    GTN sublingual tablet is used either to relieve the pain of angina attacks (chest pain) or to prevent an expected angina attack, such as when you are about to exercise. When taken orally by swallowing, it would not act fast enough to relieve the pain of an attack as it takes time for the medication to be absorbed through our digestive system. Dissolving the tablet under your tongue would enable the medication to be absorbed into your blood immediately and provide relief within 5 minutes.
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  3. When do I need to take GTN?

    GTN sublingual tablet should be taken at the first sign of an attack of angina (chest pain). Do not wait until severe pain develops. If you are using GTN to prevent an anticipated angina attack, dissolve one tablet under your tongue 5 to 10 minutes before engaging in activities that you know may trigger an attack.
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  5. How many GTN tablets should I take when I have an attack? Is there a maximum quantity I can take?

    Upon the first sign of chest pain, dissolve one tablet under your tongue. The medication usually gives relief in less than 5 minutes. However, if the pain is not relieved, use a second tablet. If the pain continues for another 5 minutes, a third tablet may be used. If you still have chest pain after a total of 3 tablets in a 15-minute period, please call 995 for the ambulance. You may continue to take 1 tablet every 5 minutes to relieve the attack while waiting for the ambulance.
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  7. Should I store my GTN tablets in the refrigerator?

    It is not necessary to store your GTN sublingual tablets in the fridge. You may store the tablets in a cool dry place such as your bedroom drawer, away from direct light and heat sources.
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  9. Why must I store my GTN tablets in a cool dry place away from light?

    GTN sublingual tablets are extremely sensitive to heat and light. If exposed to these external factors, the tablets may deteriorate and may not work when you experience an angina attack.
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  11. Can I keep my GTN tablets in my pocket?

    Yes, it is important to bring your GTN sublingual tablets with you at all times. However, as our body also produces heat, it is advisable to place a card or another object between your GTN tablet bottle and the inside of your pocket.

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