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Cholesterol Lowering Medication; Nicotinic Acid

After the previous article I discussed about statins as a cholesterol lowering medication, this time I will try to explain other cholesterol lowering medication treatment using over the counter product which is Nicotinic Acid.

Nicotinic acid works by lowering levels of VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) and triglycerids in the blood, which in turn can lower levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein) or carry name as the bad cholesterol. In addition to having the ability to lower LDL levels in the blood, nicotinic acid also has the ability to increase the HDL (high density lipoprotein), which is good cholesterol. It is essential and required by the body. This type of medication has the best ability to increase HDL compared to other cholesterol lowering medication, which is why nicotinic acid quite popular and is often prescribed by the physicians to the patients.

Once we know how nicotinic acid works, now we are trying to determine the forms of nicotinic acid, which could be divided into 3 (three) forms:

  1. Immediate-release form
  2. Sustained-release form
  3. Extended-release form

Immediate-release form nicotinic acid drug is Niacor. This drug is usually used at the beginning of treatment that the cholesterol-lowering effect can be directly felt by the patient. Immediate-release form drug is not used for long-term medication. Then there is another form as a Sustained-release form with its brand name drug Slo-Niacin. This drug is intended for the treatment of long term cholesterol nicotinic acid. The third or last is the extended-release form with Niaspan as the name of the brand medicine. Extended release form works quite the same way with the Sustained release form, which means that this treatment is more suitable for long-term because of the effect that can provide long influence on drug use.

We know nicotinic acid actually has a very good effect in improving one’s cholesterol level, even as noted previously, nicotinic acid as a cholesterol lowering medication is having the best effect in increasing HDL level in the blood, however, nicotinic acid is not suitable for everyone. People with liver problems, for example, are not recommended to use nicotinic acid. People who have diabetes problems should also be vigilant when using nicotinic acid or niacin. People who have conditions such as gout, clotting disorders and glaucoma also should not take niacin. In addition, it should be noted that nicotinic acid had no ability to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, unlike statins that have such capabilities.

Just like other medications, cholesterol lowering medication also has side effects. Generally, the side effects are minor and temporary, and the benefits brought by the drug outperform side effects of the drug, as well as nicotinic acid. The common side effects of nicotinic acid are

  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Itching
  • Dizziness

Nicotinic acid or niacin is over the counter drug, not a prescription drug. So that patients can purchase it freely without any written prescription from the physician. However, for the purpose of cholesterol medication the physician involvement is encouraged in order to prescribe the drug and provide the proper dosage. In addition to that, when it was decided to conduct a long-term treatment with nicotinic acid or niacin, then it should be done with monitoring so that the treatment remain safe in use and gives better outcome. Nicotinic acid is a vitamin B, which is actually safe to use as long as it is not in significant amounts because it can damage the health of the liver.