Recent Study Suggests Niacin Drugs May Not Prevent Heart Attacks

It’s no secret that lowering bad cholesterol levels will help to reduce the risk of heart attacks in patients with heart disease. It’s also been widely suggested that raising the levels of good cholesterol within the body would also aid in heart attack prevention. However, a recent government study suggests that this school of thought may be misplaced.

Common treatment for heart disease typically involves the use of statin drugs like Lipitor and Zocor to help lower bad cholesterol. Treatment can also include use of the vitamin, niacin, which is said to help raise the levels of good cholesterol in the body. Interestingly, results from the government study suggested that niacin provided no real benefit over the basic statin therapy.

The studies seem to indicate that whatever doctors thought they knew about cholesterol may be wrong. The assumption that raising the body’s H.D.L. cholesterol levels as a preventative measure for people with heart disease doesn’t seem to be panning out and no one really knows why.

This study is bad news for Abbott Laboratories, as the drug company last year reported $927 million in Niaspan sales. Niaspan is an extended release form of niacin, and given the results of the recent government study, use of this drug is bound to drastically decline.

Despite these findings, researchers suggest that patients not stop taking Niaspan without first consulting their doctors.

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