A niacin and statin combination is a treatment for lowering blood lipid or fats. Typically, statin medications lower total cholesterol levels, while niacin is effective in lower levels of triglycerides, another fat present in the blood. A prescription medication called Niaspan is typically given in conjunction with statin medications to those who have elevated total cholesterol levels and elevations in triglycerides. Although over-the-counter niacin supplements are available, they should not be taken unless under the direction of a health care provider. In addition, niacin therapy can cause side effects such as facial flushing and headache. Niacin and statin therapy is generally well tolerated, however, side effects should be reported at once.
Typically, hypercholesterolemia, or high cholesterol, responds not only to niacin and statin therapy, but also to dietary changes and exercise. It is important for the physician to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes into a cholesterol- and triglyceride-lowering routine for optimal effects. Statin medications work by blocking or interfering with the amount of total cholesterol produced by the liver. Generally, they are especially effective in lowering low-density lipoproteins. These cholesterol components are also known as LDLs or "bad" cholesterol. Usually, when low-density lipoproteins rise and high-density lipoproteins or HDLs fall, the risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, and heart attack rises.
Commonly used medications employed in a niacin and statin protocol include atorvastatin. This medication is also known Lipitor and marketed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. Generally, Lipitor is taken once daily in conjunction with Niaspan or a regular niacin supplement, also usually taken once a day.
Lipitor can lower "bad" cholesterol levels and might also be effective in lowering triglyceride levels, much like Niaspan. Like most cholesterol-lowering medications, Lipitor can have side effects such as muscle pain, stomach upset, and abnormalities in liver function tests. While receiving this therapy, the physician should closely monitor one's blood chemistry to reveal early signs of abnormal liver function.
Another medication sometimes used in niacin and statin therapy is lovastatin, also known as Advicor. Typically, this is also used in conjunction with dietary modifications that include fat and cholesterol restriction. Like Lipitor, this medication can be taken once a day, or if the physician deems necessary, twice a day.
Similar to other statin medications, it can be taken with a niacin supplement or prescription preparation and can cause side effects. Typically, Advicor side effects can include gas, heartburn, muscle pain, and blurred vision. If side effects worsen and compromise medication compliance, the physician should be notified for an alternative treatment plan to niacin and statin therapy.