Niacin as a Component of Combination Therapy for Dyslipidemia

Miller, Michael
June 2003
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Jun2003, Vol. 78 Issue 6, p735
Academic Journal
Dyslipidemia is one of the most important modifiable risk factors for coronary disease. Despite the availability of highly effective lipid-modifying agents, many patients still do not reach lipid targets established by national guidelines. Niacin has been known to be an effective treatment of dyslipidemia for almost half a century. Niacin substantially increases high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC) levels while lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), triglycerides, and lipoprotein(a). In addition, niacin converts small LDL particles into more buoyant, less atherogenic LDL particles. Combined with other agents, niacin offers an important treatment option for patients with dyslipidemia. In particular, niacin complements LDL-C-lowering drugs; it is the most effective agent available for increasing HDL-C levels while lowering levels of LDL-C and triglycerides and improving other lipid risk factors such as lipoprotein(a). Combining niacin with statins or bile acid sequestrant therapy is safe and effective for improving lipid levels and decreasing coronary risk. Differences in niacin formulations dictate tolerability profiles and should be considered when selecting niacin as part of lipid therapy. Furthermore, adverse effects on glucose and insulin sensitivity should be considered when selecting candidates for niacin therapy. Adding niacin to lipid-lowering regimens is a valuable option for physicians treating patients with dyslipidemia and should be considered in appropriate patients.


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