Mayo Clinic Makes Recommendations to Patients Taking Niacin
By Traci Klein from Mayo Clinic News June 16, 2011 311
In late May, the National Institutes of Health announced it was stopping early the AIM-HIGH study, a study looking at the potential added benefit of niacin therapy for patients with known heart disease who also had a low HDL or “good” cholesterol level and who were already taking a statin-type medication to treat their cholesterol abnormalities.
The study was stopped early because investigators found that niacin did not help reduce cardiac events, such as a heart attack, at least when it is added to statin therapy. Niacin did not increase the risk of heart problems, but simply did not show additional benefit to the use of statin therapy alone.
Niacin is a B vitamin that has the effect, when used in large doses, to reduce levels of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and fats (triglycerides), while raising the levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
As a result of the NIH’s announcement, the Mayo Clinic Cardiovascular Health Clinic is recommending the use of statin therapy as an initial line of therapy for nearly all patients with heart disease who have abnormal cholesterol levels, including those who have a low level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Niacin is considered as an alternative therapy for cholesterol-lowering, on a case-by-case basis, particularly for patients who cannot tolerate a statin medication.
Patients who are taking niacin (Niaspan, Slo-Niacin or other types of niacin) in combination with a statin medication should contact the physician who is helping them treat their cholesterol abnormalities, to ask if niacin therapy is recommended for their individual case.
Dr. Randal Thomas, chair of Mayo Clinic’s Cardiovascular Health Clinic, offers patients an explanation of Mayo’s recommendations.