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Nitroglycerin Headache and Nitroglycerin-Induced Primary Headaches From 1846 and Onwards: A Historical Overview and an Update

Authors

  • Peer C. Tfelt-Hansen MD, DMS,

    1. From the Danish Headache Centre, Department of Neurology, University of Copenhagen, Glostrup Hospital, Glostrup (P.C. Tfelt-Hansen); Laboratory of Molecular Cardiology, Department of Cardiology, Copenhagen University Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark (J. Tfelt-Hansen).
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  • Jacob Tfelt-Hansen MD, DMS

    1. From the Danish Headache Centre, Department of Neurology, University of Copenhagen, Glostrup Hospital, Glostrup (P.C. Tfelt-Hansen); Laboratory of Molecular Cardiology, Department of Cardiology, Copenhagen University Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark (J. Tfelt-Hansen).
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  • Conflict of Interest: None

P. Tfelt-Hansen, Department of Neurology, Glostrup Hospital, Glostrup 2600, Denmark.

Abstract

Nitroglycerin (NTG) (glyceryl trinitrate) was synthesized by the Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero in Paris in 1846. A very unstable explosive, Alfred Nobel while working on explosives, combined it with Kiselguhr and patented it as dynamite in 1867. NTG was introduced in 1879 in medicine in the treatment of angina pectoris by the English doctor William Murrell. NTG-induced headache was quickly recognized as an important adverse event both in the industrial use of NTG, where it was used to produce dynamite, as well as in the use of NTG as drug. This review traces the evolution of our understanding of NTG headache.

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