Niaspan should be used as one part of a cholesterol-lowering program, in combination with exercise and a low-cholesterol diet. Niaspan uses include lowering cholesterol and triglycerides in people with high cholesterol and triglyceride levels and slowing the hardening of the heart's arteries in people with a history of coronary artery disease and high cholesterol. Sometimes Niaspan is used in combination with other cholesterol medicines, such as statins and bile acid sequestrants.
Niaspan Uses: An OverviewNiaspan® (niacin extended-release) is a medication that has been licensed to treat several conditions. Niaspan uses include:
- Lowering cholesterol in patients with hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol). Niaspan can reduce both total and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).
- Lowering triglyceride levels in patients with hypertriglyceridemia (high triglycerides). Triglycerides are fat-like substances found in the body.
- Lowering triglycerides or cholesterol levels in patients who are already taking another cholesterol medication, such as a statin (Crestor®, Pravachol®, Lescol®, Mevacor®, Altoprev®, Lipitor®, Zocor®) or a bile acid sequestrant like cholestyramine (Prevalite®, Questran®, Questran® Light, LoCholest®), colestipol (Colestid®), or colesevelam (WelChol®). Niaspan is also better than most other cholesterol-lowering medicines at raising HDL cholesterol.
- Reducing the risk of another heart attack in patients with a history of both a heart attack and high cholesterol.
- Slowing the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in patients with a history of coronary artery disease (CAD) and high cholesterol.
High levels of cholesterol in the blood can accumulate on the walls of arteries (known as atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries), leading to decreased blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart, brain, and other areas of the body. This can greatly increase a person's risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, angina (chest pain), a heart attack, and a stroke.
Niaspan has been licensed for the treatment of high cholesterol in addition to a low-cholesterol diet and exercise. It works by lowering total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, VLDL cholesterol, and apo B (a component of cholesterol that is related to several heart disease risk factors). It also raises HDL cholesterol, which is the good cholesterol. Niaspan may be used alone or in combination with a statin or bile acid sequestrant.
In general, cholesterol treatment is aimed at lowering LDL cholesterol levels enough to reduce the risk of developing complications associated with high cholesterol (see Effects of High Cholesterol). If you are at a higher risk, you will have a lower LDL goal.
(Click High Cholesterol Risk to determine your cholesterol risk and find out what your LDL cholesterol level should be.)