Nitroglycerin In Dextrose

NITROGLYCERIN IN DEXTROSE- nitroglycerin injection
Baxter Healthcare Corporation


Nitroglycerin is 1,2,3-propanetriol trinitrate, an organic nitrate whose structural formula is

Nitroglycerin Structural Formula

whose empiric formula is C3 H5 N3 O9 , and whose molecular weight is 227.09. The organic nitrates are vasodilators, active on both arteries and veins.

Dextrose (Dextrose Hydrous, USP) is D-glucose monohydrate, a hexose sugar whose structural formula is

Dextrose Structural Formula

whose empiric formula is C6 H12 O6 • H2 O, and whose molecular weight is 198.17.

Nitroglycerin in 5% Dextrose Injection is a sterile, nonpyrogenic solution of nitroglycerin and dextrose in water for injection. The solution is clear and practically colorless. Each 100 mL contains 10 mg, 20 mg, or 40 mg nitroglycerin (added as Diluted Nitroglycerin, USP with propylene glycol); 5 g Dextrose Hydrous, USP; 0.84 mL Alcohol, USP (added as a dissolution aid); and 105 mg Citric Acid Hydrous, USP (added as a buffer). The pH of the solution is adjusted with sodium hydroxide and, if necessary, hydrochloric acid.

Although dry nitroglycerin is explosive, nitroglycerin in 5% dextrose is not.

Composition, osmolarity and pH are given in Table 1.

Table 1
Normal physiologic osmolarity range is approximately 280 to 310 mOsmol/L. Administration of substantially hypertonic solutions (≥600 mOsmol/L) may cause vein damage.
Composition *Osmolarity (mOsmol/L) (calc) pH
Nitroglycerin (mcg/mL)Dextrose Hydrous, USP (g/L)
25 mg Nitroglycerin in 5% Dextrose Injection 100 50 428 4.0(3.0 to 5.0)
50 mg Nitroglycerin in 5% Dextrose Injection 200 50 440 4.0(3.0 to 5.0)
100 mg Nitroglycerin in 5% Dextrose Injection 400 50 465 4.0(3.0 to 5.0)


The principal pharmacological action of nitroglycerin is relaxation of vascular smooth muscle and consequent dilatation of peripheral arteries and veins, especially the latter. Dilatation of the veins promotes peripheral pooling of blood and decreases venous return to the heart, thereby reducing left ventricular end-diastolic pressure and pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (preload). Arteriolar relaxation reduces systemic vascular resistance, systolic arterial pressure, and mean arterial pressure (afterload). Dilatation of the coronary arteries also occurs. The relative importance of preload reduction, afterload reduction, and coronary dilatation remains undefined.

Dosing regimens for most chronically used drugs are designed to provide plasma concentrations that are continuously greater than a minimally effective concentration. This strategy is inappropriate for organic nitrates. Several well-controlled clinical trials have used exercise testing to assess the anti-anginal efficacy of continuously-delivered nitrates. In the large majority of these trials, active agents were indistinguishable from placebo after 24 hours (or less) of continuous therapy. Attempts to overcome nitrate tolerance by dose escalation, even to doses far in excess of those used acutely, have consistently failed. Only after nitrates have been absent from the body for several hours has their anti-anginal efficacy been restored.


The volume of distribution of nitroglycerin is about 3 L/kg, and nitroglycerin is cleared from this volume at extremely rapid rates, with a resulting serum half-life of about 3 minutes. The observed clearance rates (close to 1 L/kg/min) greatly exceed hepatic blood flow; known sites of extrahepatic metabolism include red blood cells and vascular walls.

The first products in the metabolism of nitroglycerin are inorganic nitrate and the 1,2-and 1,3- dinitroglycerols. The dinitrates are less effective vasodilators than nitroglycerin, but they are longer-lived in the serum, and their net contribution to the overall effect of chronic nitroglycerin regimens is not known. The dinitrates are further metabolized to (non-vasoactive) mononitrates and, ultimately, to glycerol and carbon dioxide.

To avoid development of tolerance to nitroglycerin, drug-free intervals of 10-12 hours are known to be sufficient; shorter intervals have not been well studied. In one well-controlled clinical trial, subjects receiving nitroglycerin appeared to exhibit a rebound or withdrawal effect, so that their exercise tolerance at the end of the daily drug-free interval was less than that exhibited by the parallel group receiving placebo.

Clinical Trials:

Blinded, placebo-controlled trials of intravenous nitroglycerin have not been reported, but multiple investigators have reported open-label studies, and there are scattered reports of studies in which intravenous nitroglycerin was tested in blinded fashion against sodium nitroprusside.

In each of these studies, therapeutic doses of intravenous nitroglycerin were found to reduce systolic and diastolic arterial blood pressure. The heart rate was usually increased, presumably as a reflexive response to the fall in blood pressure. Coronary perfusion pressure was usually, but not always, maintained.

Intravenous nitroglycerin reduced central venous pressure (CVP), right atrial pressure (RAP), pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP), pulmonary-capillary wedge pressure (PCWP), pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR), and systemic vascular resistance (SVR). When these parameters were elevated, reducing them toward normal usually caused a rise in cardiac output. Conversely, intravenous nitroglycerin usually reduced cardiac output when it was given to patients whose CVP, RAP, PAP, PCWP, PVR, and SVR were all normal.

Most clinical trials of intravenous nitroglycerin have been brief; they have typically followed hemodynamic parameters during a single surgical procedure. In one careful study, one of the few that lasted more than a few hours, continuous intravenous nitroglycerin had lost almost all of its hemodynamic effect after 48 hours. In the same study, patients who received nitroglycerin infusions for only 12 hours out of each 24 demonstrated no similar attenuation of effect. These results are consistent with those seen in multiple large, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of other formulations of nitroglycerin and other nitrates.


Nitroglycerin in 5% Dextrose Injection is indicated for treatment of peri-operative hypertension; for control of congestive heart failure in the setting of acute myocardial infarction; for treatment of angina pectoris in patients who have not responded to sublingual nitroglycerin and ß-blockers; and for induction of intraoperative hypotension.


Allergic reactions to organic nitrates are extremely rare, but they do occur. Nitroglycerin in 5% Dextrose Injection is contraindicated in patients who are allergic to it.

In patients with pericardial tamponade, restrictive cardiomyopathy, or constrictive pericarditis, cardiac output is dependent upon venous return. Intravenous nitroglycerin is contraindicated in patients with these conditions.

Solutions containing dextrose may be contraindicated in patients with known allergy to corn or corn products.

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