niacin, Niacor, Niaspan, Slo-Niacin, Nicolar (discontinued) (cont.)

Pharmacy Author:
Medical and Pharmacy Editor:

Niacin is available in immediate and slow-release forms (Niaspan, Slo-Niacin). Natural sources of niacin include meat, poultry, liver, fish, nuts, green vegetables, whole grains, and potatoes. Niaspan was approved by the FDA in July 1997.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Niacin is used for treating niacin deficiency. It is also used for reducing elevated blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increasing HDL cholesterol. In patients with high cholesterol, coronary artery disease that increase the risk of heart attacks, niacin reduces the risk of heart attacks, and slows progression or promotes regression of coronary artery disease.

SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects of niacin are:

Flushing may be reduced by taking 325 mg of aspirin 30 minutes before the niacin and by increasing the dose of niacin slowly. Drinking hot liquids or alcohol shortly before or after niacin is taken may increase the occurrence of flushing. Extended release formulations of niacin may cause flushing less frequently than immediate release formulations.

Rare cases of liver failure or muscle injury have occurred from the use of niacin. Blood tests to monitor for liver injury should be performed before niacin therapy begins, every 6-12 weeks for the first year, and then occasionally thereafter. Niacin should be discontinued if liver tests are greater than three times the upper limit of normal, are persistently elevated, or are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or weakness.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/19/2015

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