Long-Term Use of Short- and Long-Acting Nitrates in Stable Angina Pectoris

Kosmicki, Marek Antoni
May 2009
Current Clinical Pharmacology;May2009, Vol. 4 Issue 2, p132
Academic Journal
Long-acting nitrates are effective antianginal drugs during initial treatment. However, their therapeutic value is compromised by the rapid development of tolerance during sustained therapy, which means that their clinical efficacy is decreased during long-term use. Sublingual nitroglycerin (NTG), a short-acting nitrate, is suitable for the immediate relief of angina. In patients with stable angina treated with oral long-acting nitrates, NTG maintains its full anti-ischemic effect both after initial oral ingestion and after intermittent long-term oral administration. However, NTG attenuates this effect during continuous treatment, when tolerance to oral nitrates occurs, and this is called cross-tolerance. In stable angina long-acting nitrates are considered third-line therapy because a nitrate-free interval is required to avoid the development of tolerance. Nitrates vary in their potential to induce the development of tolerance. During long-lasting nitrate therapy, except pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), one can observe the development of reactive oxygen species (ROS) inside the muscular cell of a vessel wall, and these bind with nitric oxide (NO). This leads to decreased NO activity, thus, nitrate tolerance. PETN has no tendency to form ROS, and therefore during long-term PETN therapy, there is probably no tolerance or cross-tolerance, as during treatment with other nitrates.


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