Still, the final verdict on whether niacin is worth taking is yet to come, the researchers said.
"Although 25 percent of patients stopped the treatment early, 75 percent continued on it for approximately four years," Dr. Richard Haynes, clinical coordinator at Oxford's Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit, said in the news release. "Currently, we are analyzing the final data on the cardiovascular outcomes from the trial, and once we have these we will know whether or not the benefits of the treatment outweigh the [risks]."
One U.S. expert was less than impressed by niacin's performance.
The trial "confirms that, for the present moment, there may be little additional benefit with the use of niacin when patients are well treated with the lipid-lowering statin drugs," said Dr. Kevin Marzo, chief of cardiology at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.
He said that the results of the new trial, along with those from a prior large study, "now may put the final nail in the coffin on niacin-based strategies to raise HDL and lower cardiovascular events."
Other tried-and-true approaches may work best, Marzo added. "In addition to statins, our focus should be on continued lifestyle changes such as a Mediterranean diet, complemented with daily exercise," he said.
The full results on the study are expected to be presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in March, and will be published in another paper.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health outlines steps you can take to reduce heart risks.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCES: Kevin Marzo, MD
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