Fighting the Bad Cholesterol

High cholesterol treated with niacin reduced risks of cardiovascular disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Not all cholesterol is bad. However, one type of cholesterol is especially harmful. When the body has too much of this "bad" cholesterol, the heart is in danger.

Bad cholesterol is called low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. High levels of LDL can be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Treating high cholesterol with medicine is one way to keep the heart healthy.

A recent study found that niacin, also known as vitamin B3, was successful in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

"Eat right to keep your heart healthy."

Paul Lavigne, MD, of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and colleague led the study to see if niacin supplementation was useful in reducing cardiovascular disease risks.

The study included data from eleven other medical studies. A total of 9,959 patients were identified for the study. There were 4,365 patients that received niacin therapy. A second group of 5,595 did not receive niacin therapy.

Researchers found that niacin therapy led to a 34 percent relative odds reduction in cardiovascular disease events. Niacin also led to a 25 percent relative odds reduction in major coronary heart disease events, such as death. Niacin therapy did not lower the risk of stroke.

Relative odds are the odds of getting cardiovascular disease among patients using niacin therapy divided by the odds of getting the disease among patients not using niacin.

Authors suggested that more research is needed to figure out how niacin lowers cardiovascular risks.

There were some limitations in the study. The authors did not have access to individual patient data. The data they used was from published studies. Some of the studies the authors used included small numbers of patients on niacin therapy.

This study, titled "The Current State of Niacin in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Systemic Review Review and Meta-Regression," was published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Lavigne disclosed no conflict of interest. Co-author Dr. Richard Karas disclosed that he receives consulting fees from pharmaceutical companies Abbot Laboratories and Merck.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 23, 2013
Last Updated:
January 27, 2013