Nicotinic Acid for High Cholesterol
What To Think About
Flushing side effect
Facial flushing and itching gradually diminish over time for most people. Starting with a low dose and gradually increasing the dose may reduce the flushing and itching. If you need to relieve flushing, talk with your doctor to find a method that works for you.
Talk to your doctor before you start taking over-the-counter (nonprescription) niacin. If you choose to take it, ask your doctor to help you know which medicine to buy and how much to take.
Nicotinic acid is a B vitamin that is available without a prescription as a vitamin supplement (niacin). The nicotinic acid form of niacin lowers cholesterol, but other forms of niacin do not. These other forms that do not lower cholesterol include nicotinamide and inositol nicotinate (also called no-flush niacin).
Ask your doctor how much niacin you should take. You want to take a dose that will work. But you do not want to take more niacin than you need. Larger doses of niacin can be dangerous, because they can damage your liver.
Activity and diet
Be active and eat a cholesterol-lowering diet in addition to taking this medicine. Ask your doctor for advice on a diet that can help lower cholesterol. An example is the Reference Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet Opens New Window. For more information, see:
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Reference Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
If you take niacin as a prescription or over-the-counter medicine, your doctor will likely have you get regular blood tests to check for liver problems.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: June 29, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Reference Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology