Cholesterol drug Niaspan fails to protect heart: Study

According to researchers at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), increasing the dose of niacin to patients with heart disease who are already taking a cholesterol-lowering statin does nothing extra to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Approximately one out of seven Americans have high blood cholesterol, a main risk factor in heart disease, which kills some 800,000 people in the United States annually.

This new study may change the method of doctors treating millions of patients with cardiovascular disease feel experts. The NIH stopped a study with Abbott Laboratories' cholesterol fighter Niaspan 18 months early after results showed the drug wasn't successful in preventing heart attacks and may even have increased stroke risk.

The trial had enrolled 3,414 participants in the U.S. and Canada with a history of heart disease who were taking a statin drug to keep their LDL cholesterol low. Niacin, or vitamin B3, is taken to assist other cholesterol lowering drugs to decrease blood levels of triglycerides and LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol. It is also used to boost levels of HDL, the so-called good cholesterol. Statins are drugs used to treat high cholesterol by limiting the body's production of it.

Results shocked the researchers who found that when patients also took high dose, extended-release niacin, there was no additional drop in heart disease or stroke. However, some said they wouldn't discard their longstanding belief in targeting HDL. Doctors also say Niaspan decreases the risk of pancreatitis.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Algarve Algarve Australia says:

    A much better way to reduce triglycerides is to lower carbohydrate intake since carbohydrates in the form of sugars turn into triglycerides in the liver. It's simple biochemistry. Saturated fats won't increase triglycerides when you take away the high carb foods, and will in fact increase HDL cholesterol. No need for statin drugs at all.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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