April 16, 2010

Niacin Helps Reduce Plaque Buildup When Added to Statins for Cholesterol

Posted in Heart disease tips, New Heart Studies, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 5:56 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

A study of more than 350 patients showed that plaque buildup in the carotid arteries was reduced significantly when patients were treated with both Niacin and a statin (like Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, simvastatin, etc.).  From http://www.theheart.org, “lead investigator Dr Todd Villines (Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC) told heartwire. ‘Niacin leads to a regression of atherosclerosis when added to statins in high-risk patients with an LDL-cholesterol baseline level of less than 100 mg/dL. The regression was clearly superior to ezetimibe [Zetia] in this patient population for its effect on the artery walls.’  The purpose of the study was to see if Zetia also helped to reduce plaque but Zetia showed no significant plaque regression.  Zetia does show results when lowering cholesterol but Niacin is clearly a better choice when a person has Coronary Artery Disease.  If your cardiologist wants to improve your cholesterol numbers and you have a history of heart disease, ask them about giving you Niacin.

Many patients are hesitant to take Niacin because it has a somewhat uncomfortable side effect of mild flushing.  For most patients it feels like you have a sunburn or that you are blushing for a short period of time after you take the medicine.  A few people have more severe reactions that makes taking the medicine extremely uncomfortable.  BUT, none of these reactions are life-threatening!  If you really want to be aggressive about treating your heart disease, studies show that Niacin is a great way to raise HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce plaque buildup when taken with statins.

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