Niacin Trials Curtailed After Being Ineffective

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Trial Stopped Eighteen Months Earlier
Early research had shown that the nutrient niacin is beneficial to raise the levels of good cholesterol and reduce the possibility of a cardiac arrest. However, when the clinical trials failed to show any such benefits, the trial was discontinued eighteen months before its official stopping. Sponsored by the United States National Institutes of Health had enrolled patients with a cardiac condition who were keeping the levels of bad cholesterol under check with statin medicines. The clinical trial had hoped to use the nutrient niacin to increase good cholesterol, and lower the triglycerides (blood levels of fats), which would reduce the possibility of a stroke or a cardiac arrest.

Reasons For Stopping The Trials
Dr. Susan B. Shurin, who is the acting director of the U.S. Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, stated that the clinical trial was discontinued early due to several reasons. Although, high doses of niacin raised the HDL cholesterol levels in the patients and lowered the production of triglycerides, the overall rate of cardio vascular activity did not see any changes. Additionally, there was an inexplicable higher rate of stroke in the group on high doses of niacin when compared to the group on statins alone. Although, it was unclear if this higher incidence was incidental, the trial was discontinued in the face of there being no additional benefits of the niacin.

HDL Boosting Capacity Basis For The Trial
Several studies had shown that lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol increased the possibility of a stroke or cardiac arrest. Therefore, while undertaking the research it was assumed that any drug that boosts the HDL levels should be beneficial. During the trial, over 3400 participants with an average age of sixty-four years were randomly given high doses of niacin or placebo. In addition, all patients were provided dose of a statin drug. The results were as expected and the participants on niacin showed higher HDL levels and lower triglycerides when compared to the group only on statins. However, the increase in the good cholesterol failed to reduce the possibility of heart attacks. Additionally, there was no reduction in the hospitalization for cardiac ailments or procedures undertaken to open blocked arteries.

Higher Rate Of Strokes Seen In Participants
To add to the negatives of the trials, it was seen that the incidence of a stroke increased in participants consuming niacin in comparison to participants consuming statin. There were twenty-eight participants taking niacin who suffered a stroke while only twelve participants suffered a stroke in the other group. From the twenty-eight participants who suffered a stroke, nine patients had discontinued the use of the drug at least between two months and four years prior to the stroke.

Advise To Patients To Continue The Medications
Dr. Shurin advised patients who are using supplemental niacin to continue using the nutrient. However, they are recommended to talk to their physicians and not base their decision on the facts revealed by this clinical trial. The participants are scheduled for visits during the next few weeks and be monitored for the next twelve to eighteen months.