Alleviating Angina Pain
While Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel was experimenting with nitroglycerin as an explosive, scientists and physicians were testing its medical uses. Until that time, the only pain medications available were brandy and opium. One doctor used nitroglycerin to treat headaches, toothaches and nervous spasms. Another doctor thought nitroglycerin could cure sunstroke, epilepsy and encephalitis. Amyl nitrate had already been used in 1867 by Scottish pharmacologist Thomas L. Brunton to relieve his own pain from angina. In 1879, William Murrell, who was born on this date in 1853, took the next step and found that nitroglycerin better alleviated the pain associated with angina by dilating the arteries of the heart.
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