50-year-old cholesterol medication makes a comeback?

 A recent cholesterol trial called ARBITER 6-HALTS was discussed at the American Heart Association national meeting and published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month. Three hundred and sixty three men and women with known heart disease or vascular disease were enrolled in this study. All of the patients LDL (bad) cholesterol levels were < 100 mg/dl (goal LDL in this high risk group is < 70) so the LDL was good but could be better. Their HDL (good) cholesterol levels were acceptable but a little low (< 50 mg/dl). When HDL levels are low patients are not receiving adequate protection against heart disease and stroke. Half of the patients received treatment with ezetimibe (Zetia) in addition to a statin treatment to further lower LDL levels. The remaining patients received extended-release niacin in addition to a statin to improve HDL levels. So this study set out to see which treatment would be more beneficial – further lowering of LDL (bad) cholesterol or raising HDL (good) cholesterol in a high-risk group of patients.

After 14 months of treatment cholesterol results improved in both patients receiving ezetimibe and patients receiving niacin. The interesting finding was the niacin patients had a reversal of plaque inside the blood vessels in the neck; this was measured by a test called carotid IMT. The patients in the ezetimibe (Zetia) group surprisingly did not experience the same benefit. This was a small study but clearly suggests that niacin, which is a 50-year-old medication, may be more beneficial than some of the newer medications like ezetimibe. Remember all of these patients were also receiving a statin medication for cholesterol management. Unfortunately many patients are unable to tolerate high doses of niacin due to the side effects. Niacin is an inexpensive medication and available over the counter but we recommend you talk with your health care provider before starting niacin treatment.

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9 Responses to 50-year-old cholesterol medication makes a comeback?

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  5. This is an awesome entry. Thank you very much for the supreme post provided! I was looking for this entry for a long time, but I wasnt able to find a honest source.

  6. dll virus says:

    This is absolutely great. Thanks for making this available

  7. Richard Painter says:

    Niacin is neither “50 years old” nor a medication. It’s a vitamin – B3 or nicotinic acid:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niacin

    But to suggest that free exercise and free vitamins ( perhaps supplemented by cheap vitamins) could suppress or reduce heart disease would not do!
    Think of those poor pharma cos and their statins? The American Heart Association (AHA) and their kick-backs. consulting contracts, sponsorship and so on!

    Protect your wealthy surgeon/doctor/pharma co now – take statins!

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