Niacin has been used for years to lower cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. Yet, recent headlines suggested that niacin cause severe side effects such as diabetes, bleeding in the brain and stomach and infection.
It’s important to understand that the study that the media was quoting used Tredaptive (extended-release niacin plus -an anti-flushing agent called laropiprant). It wasn’t just niacin. This was a trial of a combination drug not a trial testing extended release niacin. It was the additive that produced the negative effects.
Laropiprant was added to niacin stop flushing, a common side effect of niacin. But it blocked an important pathway that modulated clotting, inflammation, blood sugar and the immune system. This may be why the study subjects had bleeding in their brains and stomach, elevated blood sugar and infections.
Niacin has many benefits. It stimulates a receptor called PPAR-gamma. PPAR gamma is a great receptor to stimulate. When it’s turned on, it reduces inflammation, raises good HDL cholesterol, and lowers blood pressure and blood sugar. Studies using pure extended release niacin did not show the reported side effects.
There are many ways to reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart Heart disease is a process and its best to touch upon all of the steps in the process. It’s not just one thing. Many things influence heart health. I go into detail on how to do this in my Executive Health Physicals. Patients also come to me for focused consultations regarding how to reduce their risk of heart disease.
It could be very beneficial to have genetic testing. This can tell you if aspirin is helpful or harmful since 20% of people taking aspirin are at increased risk of stroke. It can determine if you are at increased risk of side effects of drugs and which medications are most beneficial. Measuring your lipid particle size, types and numbers is a more accurate way to target your risk and discover which supplements or medication would be most effective. A risk factors that is often overlooked is measuring heart rate variability. This can be measured and modulated to reduce the risk of heart disease, induce relaxation and unleash creativity. Taking a holistic approach to keeping your heart healthy can also reduce the risk of other illnesses.
Call my office (973-218-1199) to schedule an in depth Executive Physical or consultation. I study the studies so you don’t have to. I would like to help you live younger and healthier and perform at your peak. Keep in touch.