How Does It Work?Niaspan is the extended-release form of the B-complex vitamin niacin. It is believed to lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels by increasing the activity of an enzyme known as lipoprotein lipase that breaks down triglyceride-rich particles (VLDL) and increases their removal from the body. It is also thought to decrease the amount of these particles made and released from the liver. Depending on the type of cholesterol problem you have, the medication also:
Effects of NiaspanSince Niaspan can lower both LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels (along with lowering total cholesterol and raising HDL), a person can decrease his or her risk of developing certain health problems associated with these conditions by taking it.
In previous clinical research studies, people taking Niaspan 1000 to 2000 mg daily were able to:
- Lower triglycerides by 10 to 30 percent
- Lower LDL cholesterol by 5 to 15 percent
- Lower total cholesterol by 5 to 10 percent
- Raise HDL cholesterol by 15 to 25 percent.
The combination of Niaspan with an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor (statin) or a bile acid sequestrant can further lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
When and How Do I Take It?Some general considerations for when and how to take Niaspan include the following:
- The medication comes in tablet form and is taken by mouth once a day at bedtime. You should take Niaspan after a low-fat snack to prevent an upset stomach.
- Do not break, chew, or crush the tablets.
- Niaspan may cause flushing (warmth and redness) of the face and neck. To reduce this side effect, take aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) 30 minutes before you take your dose. It is also important to avoid drinking alcohol or hot drinks around the time you take this medication.
- If you are taking a bile acid sequestrant, make sure to take your Niaspan dose more than one hour before the bile acid sequestrant or more than four hours after. Bile acid sequestrants include:
- The medication should be taken at the same time every day to help maintain an even level in the blood. Do not take it more often than directed.
- For Niaspan to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. The medication will not work if you stop taking it.