Niacin for Stroke Prevention: Evidence and Rationale


Nerses Sanossian, M.D., LAC + USC Medical Center, 1200 N State St, # 5640 Los Angeles CA 90033, USA.
Tel.: (323) 226-7383;
Fax: (323) 226-5869;


Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol are associated with increased atherothrombotic events, including stroke. Niacin is a safe and effective means of raising HDL, yet its role in stroke prevention is not well characterized. The purpose of the study is to determine the role of niacin in stroke prevention. A search of the PUBMED database using the keywords niacin, stroke, atherosclerosis, and/or carotid artery was undertaken to identify studies for review. National guidelines from the American Heart Asssociation and National Cholesterol Education Program were reviewed. Treatment of low serum HDL (<40 mg/dL) is an identified goal of dyslipidemic therapy. Niacin is effective in raising HDL levels and reducing cardiovascular events in individuals with high vascular risk and can be used for treatment of stroke patients with low serum HDL. Niacin can be used safely in combination with statins, the first-line dyslipidemic treatment for secondary stroke risk reduction, with increased efficacy. Studies are needed to better define the role for niacin in secondary stroke prevention. Treatment of stroke patients with extended-release (ER) of niacin, alone or in combination with statins, should be considered in stroke patients with atherosclerotic mechanisms with low serum HDL-C levels.