May 30, 2011
A government-funded clinical trial is stopped 18 months early after findings suggest niacin does nothing more to prevent heart attacks.
The trial, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health with support from Abbott Laboratories, enrolled patients with a history of heart disease who were taking statins.
Researchers hoped to use niacin to boost levels of good cholesterol while lowering triglyceride levels helping reduce odds of heart attack or stroke.
3,400 patients were assigned to take either high levels of niacin or a placebo.
Researchers stopped the study after they saw while the niacin raised levels of good cholesterol.
It did not translate into fewer fatal and non-fatal heart problems.
In fact people taking niacin had more strokes than those taking a statin alone.
Doctor Susan Shurin of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says these results should not influence patients to stop taking niacin.
She advises people who take it to discuss this with their doctor before first.
Study subjects have been notified of the results and will be scheduled for follow up visits over the next eighteen months.