(vitamin B3) shown to boost levels of good cholesterol, regardless
of statin drugs
What's really stupid about this news (see below) is that the positive
health effects of the B vitamin have nothing at all to do with
the statin drug. Doctors could just ditch the statin drug and
start prescribing B vitamins to their patients, and they'd see
these positive effects just the same.
Saying that statin drugs combined with a vitamin supplement is
good for heart health is sort of like saying Frosted Flakes served
with fresh strawberries is a nutritious breakfast. The only nutrition
comes from the strawberries, not the sugary cereal. Similarly,
the only health benefit here comes from the B vitamins, not the
potentially deadly statin drugs.
a high dose of niacin to a statin drug slowed the progression
of artery disease in people with known heart disease, according
to a new study that may prompt more doctors to prescribe the B
It has been known for years that niacin (vitamin B3) can increase
levels of HDL cholesterol, the good kind.
To measure that, doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center used
ultrasound imaging of the carotid artery as a surrogate for coronary
artery disease, a method that has proven accurate in the past.
The researchers then took a group of 167 patients with known heart
disease and put them on a cholesterol-lowering statin or a statin
and a 1,000-milligram, extended-release niacin pill.
After one year, those taking niacin had a 21% increase in their
HDL cholesterol, up from an average of 39 milligrams per deciliter
to 47 mg/dl.
Lead author Allen Taylor, director of cardiovascular research
at Walter Reed, said the study was the first to document a benefit
in artery disease when comparing statins alone with a statin and
Major guidelines still do not recommend niacin for treatment or
prevention of heart disease.
However, some cardiologists in specialized clinics have been prescribing
it for their patients with low HDL cholesterol, said Daniel Rader,
director of preventive cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania.
"We do it based on faith and that low HDL is a bad thing,"
said Rader, who was not associated with the study.
Large trials that look at whether niacin actually can reduce heart
attacks and strokes are still needed, said Sidney Smith, a professor
of medicine and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Science
in Medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.