"Why don't people who take nitroglycerin for their heart blow themselves up?"
This query usually exposes a childhood fascination with Roadrunner cartoons, says Billy Goldberg, MD, a New York emergency room physician and the co-author (with Mark Leyner) of two books about health trivia ("the kind of stuff everyone wants to know, but that doctors aren't taught in medical school," Goldberg says). For those who've forgotten: The coyote would blow himself up with explosive nitroglycerin—the same substance used in heart medication. In the commonly prescribed pill form, nitroglycerin helps increase blood flow to oxygen-deprived areas of the heart by dilating blood vessels. The medicinal dose of nitroglycerin in heart medication is infinitesimal compared with the amount in a stick of dynamite, explains Goldberg in Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex? It's also highly diluted for safe handling.