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Lipid Disorders and Niacin (Niacor)

Written by ColleenO.

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, can be taken in prescription supplement form (Niacor) to reduce the production of cholesterol and reduce triglyceride levels. Niacin has been used for this purpose since the 1950s. Niacin appears to be a safe and effective treatment for high cholesterol in people with diabetes.

Effect of Niacin (Niacor) on Lipid Disorders

Niacin reduces cholesterol production.

Read more details about Niacin (Niacor).

Research Evidence on Niacin (Niacor)

Several studies have found that niacin can reduce LDL ("bad") cholesterol by approximately 10% and triglycerides by 25% while raising HDL ("good") cholesterol by 20% to 30%.24-29 Niacin also lowers levels of lipoprotein(a)—another risk factor for atherosclerosis—by about 35%. Long-term studies have shown that use of niacin can significantly reduce death rates from cardiovascular disease.30

Niacin appears to be a safe and effective treatment for high cholesterol in people with diabetes as well, and (contrary to previous reports) does not seem to raise blood sugar levels.31

How to Use Niacin (Niacor)

Take niacin supplements with food. Take this medicine at bedtime if you are taking once a day. For long-acting products, swallow whole and do not chew, break, or crush. Avoid hot drinks around the time of administration. Follow a diet plan and exercise program that is recommended by your healthcare provider.

What are the precautions when taking this medicine?

• If you have diabetes, talk with healthcare provider. This medicine can increase blood sugar.

• If you have gallbladder disease, talk with healthcare provider.

• Check medicines with healthcare provider. This medicine may not mix well with other medicines.

• Avoid alcohol (includes wine, beer, and liquor). May increase flushing.

• Tell healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant.

• Tell healthcare provider if you are breast-feeding.

What are some possible side effects of this medicine?

• Flushing. Taking aspirin or ibuprofen 30 minutes before taking this medicine may help.

• Headache.

• Itching.

• Liver damage can rarely occur.

What should I monitor?

• Change in condition being treated. Is it better, worse, or about the same?

• If you are diabetic, you will need to monitor blood sugars closely.

• Check blood work regularly. Talk with healthcare provider.

Reasons to call healthcare provider immediately

• If you suspect an overdose, call your local poison control center or emergency department immediately.

• Signs of a life-threatening reaction. These include wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; fits; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat.

• Not able to eat.

• Unusual bruising or bleeding.

• Yellow skin or eyes.

• Any rash.

• No improvement in condition or feeling worse.

References

  1. Illingworth DR, Stein EA, Mitchel YB, et al. Comparative effects of lovastatin and niacin in primary hypercholesterolemia. A prospective trial. Arch Intern Med. 1994;154:1586-1595.
  2. Guyton JR, Goldberg AC, Kreisberg RA, et al. Effectiveness of once-nightly dosing of extended-release niacin alone and in combination for hypercholesterolemia. Am J Cardiol. 1998;82:737-743.
  3. Vega GL, Grundy SM. Lipoprotein responses to treatment with lovastatin, gemfibrozil, and nicotinic acid in normolipidemic patients with hypoalphalipoproteinemia. Arch Intern Med. 1994;154:73-82.
  4. Lal SM, Hewett JE, Petroski G, et al. Effects of nicotinic acid and lovastatin in renal transplant patients: a prospective, randomized, open-labeled crossover trial. Am J Kidney Dis. 1995;25:616-622.
  5. Elam MB, Hunninghake DB, Davis KB, et al. Effect of niacin on lipid and lipoprotein levels and glycemic control in patients With diabetes and peripheral arterial disease. The ADMIT Study: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2000;284:1263-1270.
  6. Morgan JM, Capuzzi DM, Guyton JR, et al. Treatment effect of Niaspan, a controlled-release niacin, in patients with hypercholesterolemia: a placebo-controlled trial. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 1996;1:195-202.
  7. Canner PL, Berge KG, Wenger NK, et al. Fifteen year mortality in Coronary Drug Project patients: Long-term benefit with niacin. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1986;8:1245-1255.
  8. Elam MB, Hunninghake DB, Davis KB, et al. Effect of niacin on lipid and lipoprotein levels and glycemic control in patients With diabetes and peripheral arterial disease. The ADMIT Study: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2000;284:1263-1270.

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