A randomized clinical trial of intravenous nitroglycerin in patients with acute myocardial infarction: Benefits of early treatment

J. T. Flaherty, L. C. Becker, B. H. Bulkley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A prospective randomized clinical trial of intravenous nitroglycerin administered for 48 hours following acute infarction was undertaken to determine whether clinical improvement and/or preservation of ischemic myocardium could be demonstrated. One hundred four patients were randomized to receive either nitroglycerin or placebo infusion. Nitroglycerin infusion was titrated to lower mean arterial pressure 10% using non-invasive monitoring. Early nitroglycerin treatment, defined as treatment initiated < 10 hours after symptom onset, resulted in a lower incidence of new congestive heart failure, myocardial infarct extension, and/or early death from pump failure (15%) compared to late nitroglycerin treatment (50%, p = 0.008) or early placebo treatment (48%, p = 0.01). Improvement in ejection fraction of ≥ 10% was demonstrated in 7 of 20 (35%) early nitroglycerin treated patients compared to 6, 11 and 0% of patients in the three other subgroups, respectively (p = 0.004). Similarly, thallium 201 perfusion scintigrams showed a > 75% improvement in defect score in 23 (48%) patients receiving nitroglycerin within 10 hours compared to 14%, 33% and 0% respectively, in the remaining subgroups (p = 0.035). However, before routine administration of nitroglycerin can be recommended for all patients with acute infarction, larger clinical trials will be required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-136
Number of pages6
JournalZeitschrift fur Kardiologie
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1983


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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