Nitroglycerin-induced improvement in exercise tolerance and hemodynamics in patients with chronic rheumatic heart valve disease

Jeffrey S. Borer*, David R. Redwood, Samuel B. Itscoitz, Robert E. Goldstein, Stephen E. Epstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Nitroglycerin reduces elevated left ventricular filling and pulmonary arterial pressures in resting patients with rheumatic valve disease and reduces symptoms when given over long periods to patients with primary myocardial disease. To determine whether nitroglycerin may prove effective therapeutically in ambulatory patients with heart valve disease, its effects on hemodynamics and exercise capacity were studied in 11 severely symptomatic adults who were already receiving optimal treatment with digitalis and diuretic agents. Seven had predominant mitral valve disease, one had predominant aortic insufficiency and three had equally severe mitral and aortic valve disease. Maximal exercise capacity was assessed with graded treadmill exercise after placebo and after nitroglycerin (0.5 mg sublingually) administered in random sequence to each patient. Exercise capacity (exercise time to limiting fatigue or dyspnea) increased from a mean of 8.3 minutes after placebo to 9.8 minutes after nitroglycerin (p <0.005). Eight patients were studied hemodynamically during further intense treadmill exercise. Pulmonary arterial pressure was significantly lower (p <0.05) after nitroglycerin than after placebo (mean 44 versus 56 mm hg), but cardiac output was greater after nitroglycerin (5.0 versus 4.6 liters/min, p <0.005). Thus, nitroglycerin appears to increase exercise tolerance and improve the hemodynamic response to exercise in patients with heart valve disease and may be valuable in the long-term pharmacologic therapy of such patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-307
Number of pages6
JournalThe American Journal of Cardiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1978
Externally publishedYes


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