A "Hot" Topic in Dyslipidemia Management--"How to Beat a Flush": Optimizing Niacin Tolerability to Promote Long-term Treatment Adherence and Coronary Disease Prevention

Jacobson, Terry A.
April 2010
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Apr2010, Vol. 85 Issue 4, p365
Academic Journal
Niacin Is the most effective lipid-modifying agent for raising high. density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, but it also causes cutaneous vasodilatlon with flushing. To determine the frequency of flushing In clinical trials, as well as to delineate counseling and treatment approaches to prevent or manage flushing, a MEDLINE search was conducted of English-language literature from January 1, 1985, through April 7, 2009. This search used the title key- words niacin or nicotinic acid crossed with the Medical Subject Headings adverse effects and human. Niacin flushing is a receptor- mediated, mainly prostaglandin D2-driven phenomenon, the frequency, onset, and duration of which are largely determined by the distinct pharmacological and metabolic profiles of different niacin formulations. Subjective assessments Include ratings of redness, warmth, itching, and tingling. In clinical trials, most (>60%) niacin users experienced mild or moderate flushing, which tended to decrease in frequency and severity with continued niacin treatment, even with advancing doses. Approximately 5% to 20% of patients discontinued treatment because of flushing. Flushing may be minimized by taking niacin with meals (or at bedtime with a low-fat snack), avoiding exacerbating factors (alcohol or hot beverages), and taking 325 mg of aspirin 30 minutes before niacin dosing. The current review advocates an initially slow niacin dose escalation from 0.5 to 1.0 g/d during 8 weeks and then from 1.0 to 2.0 g in a single titration step (if tolerated). Through effective counseling, treatment prophylaxis with aspirin, and careful dose escalation, adherence to niacin treatment can be improved significantly. Wider implementation of these measures should enable higher proportions of patients to reach sufficient niacin doses over time to prevent cardiovascular events.


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