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Indian Heart J. 2008 May-Jun;60(3):215-22.

Efficacy and safety of combination of extended release niacin and atorvastatin in patients with low levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol.

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Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India.



We investigated the safety and efficacy of combination therapy of extended release (ER) niacin and atorvastatin in patients with low HDL-C and compared the results with atorvastatin monotherapy.


This open label study recruited consecutive men and women who had coronary artery disease with HDL-C levels <35 mg/dL. These patients were already on atorvastatin therapy targeted to lower low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), for a minimum period of 6 months. Group 1, n = 104 (mean age 52.7 years) received ER niacin in addition to atorvastatin and group 2 (n = 106) continued on atorvastatin (mean age 52.3 years). ER niacin dose was built up to a maximum of 1.5 g and atorvastatin dose titrated according to LDL levels in both the groups. The lipoprotein levels at baseline were similar (p = NS).


At 9 +/- 1.8 months of follow-up, the mean dose of ER niacin was 1.3 g and atorvastatin 13.2 mg in group 1. In comparison, group 2 patients had mean atorvastatin dose of 15.9 mg. Patients in group 1 had significant elevation in HDL-C cholesterol (39.5 +/- 5.5 vs 35.7 +/- 4.5 mg/dL), reduction in total cholesterol (156.4 +/- 31 vs 164.5 +/- 39.3 mg/dL) and also LDL-C (88.9 +/- 28.3 vs 99.8 +/- 35.4 mg/dL) compared to group 2 (all p < 0.05). The magnitude of reduction in triglyceride levels was not significant between the groups (140.1 +/- 40.4 vs 145.2 +/- 46.5 mg/dL) (p = NS). No major adverse events or clinical myopathy occurred in either groups. Four patients (4%) discontinued ER niacin (2 due to gastro-intestinal symptoms and 2 due to worsening of diabetes). Flushing occurred in 3% patients, but none felt it to be troublesome.


Adding ER niacin to atorvastatin exhibited beneficial effects on lipid profile with significant elevation of HDL-C cholesterol and further lowering of LDL-C compared to monotherapy. This treatment offered better targeted therapy and was well tolerated with proper monitoring in Indian patients.

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