Heart Health: Niacin vs. Statins

May 29, 2018 - 3:30 am

KYW’s Medical Reports Sponsored By Independence Blue Cross. 

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Over the years, Niacin has received a great deal of attention because of its so called heart disease prevention capabilities. However, a number of reports have shown that Niacin does not reduce cardiovascular disease morbidity or cardiovascular disease mortality when it is added to a statin medication. 

This is particularly important in the case of people who have heart disease that has been established. 

Niacin has adverse effects, such as flushing, increased blood sugar, gastrointestinal upset and the elevation of liver enzymes on blood tests. 

Prior to the time when statin medications were developed, Niacin was overall popular because it was somewhat more effective than a sugar pill and it was one of the few medications we had. 

But it is clear now that we have the statin drugs and that Niacin should not be used in place of the statins and he really has no benefit when added to the statins.